Lavish Hospitality 5

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Hospitality didn’t begin with us.  It didn’t begin with Southern Living, or really anything Southern.  It didn’t begin with a table.  It didn’t begin with Sweet Tea.

It began with God.  Everything good originated with God.  He created all we know.

He didn’t choose us, choose us to lavish his gracious hospitality on us because we were so good.  He delighted in us, welcomed us to his table, into his presence, restoring a broken relationship, simply because He is God and He chose to love us.

One of my favorite Bible stories is King David and how he welcomes Mephibosheth into his dining room.  He welcomes a lame man, family to the former king, into his presence to eat at the King’s table.  David could have had him killed.  This story has been my favorite Bible story for 20 years.  I spoke at a women’s retreat – my first time I spoke at a church event as the keynote – on this topic.  We love hospitality – and this one story from the Bible tells of God’s gracious hospitality to us.

Book quote from The Ology by Marty Machowski – a theology book for kids.  Picture: kcreatives

Bible story found in 2 Samuel 9.

Fitting in or Belonging (Included in Christ review)

posted in: Bible, Books | 1

There are some themes that take over the Christian conversation world from time to time.  And by that I mean so many of the books being published are about the same topic, or podcasts are interviewing people speaking on the same topic.

Right now is seems to be about friendships, belonging, community, etc.  And one of the questions or tips with figuring our my enneagram number has something to do with this.  One of the reasons I chose my enneagram number is because I have the ability to fit in anywhere, but I don’t always feel like I belong.

Belonging is a deep sense of “I’m loved no matter what” and “these people get me” verses just being able to get along, hang out, or blend in.  As someone who has been in ministry leadership for 20 years and moved around for 17 years, I’ve been rather good at that.

But fitting in is not belonging.  Belonging is sitting down and having your soul poured into for hours on end, and you don’t even have your flip flops on.

Belonging is sharing whatever is on your heart without a lull in the conversation because you don’t have to worry about what to say.  You won’t be condemned because you aren’t perfect or don’t fit the mold.  I’ve lived in areas where I’ve not fit the mold and so I’ve neither fit in or belonged – and that is so lonely.

I was listening to a podcast just yesterday and they were talking about Sabbath, resting, and loneliness.  And usually, I have found if I am lonely, it is not primarily because I am not around friends.  It is because I’ve been absent from the Word in an intimate way, slow to pray, and seeking all of my fulfillment from those who can’t fill it.

Heather Holleman writes a Bible study called Included in Christ – a study on the book of Ephesians.  She does a really good job at helping us know where we are in Christ – rooted in Him – and known by Him – and tells us that we can belong.  She helps you see your part of the story in this wonderful book of the Bible.

Some folks are very detailed and organized in their Bible study.  I’m not.  I kinda pick a book then study it in different ways: a Bible study, sermons, books, lettering, drawing, writing it out, etc.  So, this is a good one to help me along my journey in Ephesians.

If you would like to win a copy of it, just leave me a comment about anything and I’ll pick a winner soon!

Thanks to Sidedoor Communications and Moody Publishers for my copy. All thoughts are my own.

Teaching Kids Theology Through Books (Book Giveaway)

posted in: Books, Shepherding Children | 2

Win or Lose I Love You

I love reading to my boys.  It is definitely one of the highlights of being a mommy.  I love the fun pictures and the cute rhymes.  I also love it when the books I’m reading with our boys teaches them good theology. It is never too early to start teaching them good theology.

Two things I definitely want to teach the boys early on (we are already doing so) is Jesus is everything and they need him because they are sinners.

I get to review books and usually I love them – but even if I don’t love everything about them – I want to introduce them to you, give you some wisdom hopefully in how you can read the books to your kids (whether you agree wholeheartedly or not), and tell you what I do like about them.  Tommy Nelson is great about sending me books each month in exchange for a review (and all thoughts are my own) and also giving a copy to one reader!

Lysa Terkeust, of Proverbs 31 and the Best Yes fame, put out her children’s book (ideal of young school age) Win or Lose, I love YouIt is a book about woodland farm animals and some best friends.  I love her use of imagination – I definitely want to instill imagination and creativity in my boys.  It teaches some good encouragement to how to deal with competitiveness and greed and self-centeredness among friends – which I see in my boys already. I love the verses that Lysa encourages parents to read over and instill in their kids.

Here is my problem with this book – and there really is only one, but its a big one: Coyote doesn’t get his way and smashes all the pies.  His response to Lulu (one of the main characters) is “I’m the worst animal in the forest.”  Lulu said “Coyote, you behaved badly, but you aren’t bad.”  ALERT!  FALSE THEOLOGY!!  This is when, if you choose to get this book with all its great other qualities, you can teach your children about what the Bible says.

Human beings aren’t born good.

Romans 5:12-14

Romans 5:19

Psalm 51:5

Romans 3:9-23

Here’s the good thing: if we know the problem – and there is an answer – then the Gospel can become clear to our children.  If we always tell our children that they aren’t bad (inherently, they aren’t born good), then why would they ever need a Savior?

Question: how do you teach your kids theology?


31 Days : The God Who is Speaks

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The God Who Speaks

In a digital world, we are capable of hearing anyone speak from anywhere in the world anytime we care to.

But, I feel there is more to the “talk” when its live.  I remember the first time I heard Louie Giglio, John Piper, and David Platt live.  I remember hearing pastors week in and week out  – those who were not only brilliant but also passionate and engaging and pastoral.

I can tell you that sitting with a friend, talking while sipping on chai, is much better than communicating via text (though if that’s all you have its awesome).

Also, when my husband travels for his work and we have to rely on calls, texts, or emails – it is a joy to hear him say hello in person when he returns.

Some people in the Bible got to have audible conversations with God.  They also had people called prophets who were mouthpieces for God – communicating truth to the hearers.

David knew, as he was confessing his sin to a holy and just God – that the Creator would be justified in whatever he said, even if he chose not to respond.  Truth that would be fitting to the situation.

Today, we have the voice of God in written form.  It may not be quite the same as hearing God audibly, but the Word is living, active and purely true.  We can stake our life on it.  We can accept it.  We need to cherish it.  And I know I need to know it and love it more.  And I will eagerly look forward to the day when I hear the voice of God – live in his presence.

Psalm 51:4

Others: 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalm 19

31 Days : The God Who is Just

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The God Who is Just

In our world, I don’t know if there are many things that are out there that really help us capture what true justice is.  There are ministries out there who are helping recapture what justice is – fighting for the lowly, the outcast, the hurting.

Our great God has great justice for those.  He is also JUST.  He is right.  He is perfect.  Everything He does is perfectly set in that truth.  There is no injustice in Him.

That is why King David knows that no matter what the Lord says in response to David’s sin, confession, and praise – God is completely right in any response He would give – even if that was no response at all.

This is absolutely helpful to know in our world brimming with injustice.  Every time we watch the news, get on social media, discipline our children (that’s not fair), we are faced with injustice.  Isn’t it time we look to God and know his complete perfectness and rest in that?  We can come to him with all the injustice that we see and know that He is working.  He is working in the world.  He is working in our lives to root out injustice and entitlement in us.  He is working to see His justice in the world.

Psalm 51.4

31 Days: The God Who Welcomes Sinners

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God Welcomes Sinners

I love practicing hospitality.  I love welcoming people in my home, and into my life.  I love deep friendships.  Hospitality isn’t about cooking the best food or having the most comfortable guest suite or the classic Pottery Barn magazine look everywhere.

God doesn’t need any of that to welcome sinners.  We just learned that God is holy and right in all that He does.

And at the same time, God knows our sin much better than we o and He still welcomes us.  He bids us come.  He desires that we be near Him.

How totally cool is that?  God knows the ugliness of our sin – is holy – and welcomes us through Jesus to sit with him, learn from him, be loved by him, be healed through him.

Psalm 51.3-4

Further reading: Matthew 11:28 and listen to this song

31 Days: The God Who is Holy

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God is Holy

Sometimes, life is more important than getting a blog together.  I wrote yesterday’s post yesterday in my quiet time early in the morning – but the day got in the way.  I had errands to run, we went for a hike as a family, then the gym and church.  I was going to do it when I got home and the boys got to bed.  However, I cooked dinner for my mister and did the dishes only to find out that the garbage disposal was causing a leak. So…it was a longish night, and I didn’t wan to type it up at midnight.

So you will get two posts today on the attributes of God found in Psalm 51.

I’ve learned more about sin, confession, and repentance in the four years I’ve been married and three years of being a mommy than all 34 years of life before that.

Sin affects you and the world around you much more than you think it does.  It breaks relationships and hinders community and the shalom of your life.  Sin damages and sin is at war within you.

I’ve learned my first (and natural, sinful) tendency is to blame shift.  Traffic.  Kids’ temper tantrums. Others’ incompetence. My husband’s sin. But, sin doesn’t wait on other’s sin to be active in my heart.  Sin is deadly.  The Spirit is the best warrior in my life fighting against sin.

Also, I’ve learned to confess to God.  Usually, I’m just a confess to the person I’ve offended type person – and that is something that needs to happen. But, I need to confess to God first.  Because first and foremost my sin is against God.

But, why is that such an important thing to remember?  Because God isn’t like us.  He created us in his image – but He is Holy.  That means he is not dwelling in sin – there is no sin anywhere in him. He can’t sin.  He is perfect.  He doesn’t know sin intimately like we do.

And because He is holy – He can offer the solution for our sin – which He did.  Jesus was completely perfect and He became our sacrificial – holy – perfect sacrifice.

Psalm 51:4

Other: 2 Cor 5:21, 1 Peter 1.13-21

31 Days: The God Who Dwells in Steadfast Love

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God who Dwells in Steadfast Love

The longer you know a person – the more you know their character.  You can normally predict how they are going to act in or respond to a situation before it even happens.

I’ve only known my husband less than five years.  I suspect that when twenty years pass I will know him even better than I do now. Same with my children – how their little personalities are taking shape – how they will be even when they wake in the mornings.

David had walked with God for quite a while at this point in his life. David had known the Lord while David was a boy, a shepherd, a warrior, an animal-wrestler, a king, a husband, and all the while a sinner. In my thought, the greatest attribute or character trait of God that covers everything is his steadfast love.  This is especially true for how He relates to sinners.

David calls on this early in this heart-penetrating psalm.  He pleads for the Lord to act according to his steadfast, constant, unchanging, never fading love. The reason I think he does this is because he has truly experienced the steadfast love of the God. He has known that never-changing love of His Shepherd King.

Amazing how this works. And so telling to think of how much I’ve experienced this love and then how I often I fail to love others in the same way. Whether it is to friends who have hurt me or my sons who have disobeyed – how I’ve not shown an unconditional love in response.

The gospel has given me this love.  This gospel will allow me to persevere when I fail in demonstrating this love. This gospel will keep me at the feet of Jesus – having my wear head covered in this unfailing love.

Psalm 51:1

More reading: Genesis 15; Songs 2.4


31 Days: The Who God Shows Tender Mercies

posted in: 31days, Bible | 1

The God Who Shows Mercy

Parenting has taught me a lot about this idea of mercy.  I think children need both discipline and mercy.  Of course they need to learn obedience, but they also need to be shown mercy sometimes when they fail.  They need to be shown mercy if for no other reason that to get a fuller picture of the God that created them.  Mine need mercy so they won’t spend 4 hours in time out each day.

I am a daughter.  I have a merciful heavenly Father.  I am so thankful that he shows me great mercy every day.  How often do I speed without getting a ticket?  How often do I say something out of anger or spite to a family member only to be shown radical mercy and not what I deserve?  How often do I sin and am not struck down dead like some in the Bible?

I think if we realized the holiness of God and the sinfulness of our hearts than we would always start every prayer with mercy pleas.

David knew a trusted communion with God and he know he had sinned greatly.  That communion was broken.  The only was David was going to be in a right relationship with God again was if that just God showered mercy down on him. So, he opens his heart wrenching psalm with this plea.

This mercy that God showed to David didn’t stop there.  All of God’s mercy toward us was brought to completion on the cross.  Christ took all of the wrath of God for us – in other words – he got no mercy from his just Father.  He got penalty, he got death, he got the absence of His Father’s presence.

In Christ, let us also rejoice and plead for great mercy.

Psalm 51:1 ” Have mercy on me, O God.”

Other readings: Psalm 86:5; Psalm 145.9; Ephesians 2:4-5, Hebrews 4:16

31 Days: The God Who Listens

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The God Who Listens

If I’m honest, sometimes I tune out the constant chatter of my boys.  Either I’m trying to concentrate on driving through the city of Atlanta with getting us injured, or trying to follow a recipe, or I can’t understand what they are saying anyway.

I’m so glad to know that God never tunes out our humble repentant, constant, loud (or whispered), silent prayers to Him.  His ears are always open.

The other night while putting our three year old to bed I was reminded again of how God – the Almighty Creator – listens and attends our prayers.  The little was still wired and it was already past his bedtime.  He wasn’t wanting to read and get settled in for the night.  I finally just put him in bed and said let’s pray.  I took his little hand and started to pray aloud even in my rushed and impatient state.  About three sentences into the prayer of help and patience and need, my soul was quieted and my son was more still.

I can imagine the psalmist David praying this psalm aloud – maybe on his knees, maybe saying it all out the window as Nathan stood with him, or maybe it was after Nathan had left that he laid on his bed and cried these words to the God he knew so well.  I can also imagine him experiencing the quick answer and favor of the Lord – the restoration and joy that he so deeply desires later in the psalm.

God listens to a repentant heart.  He is not one to continue to play spiteful games when his children have requests the pure joy of his presence again.  He doesn’t hold us at arms length when we seek restoration.

And for me, as a daughter of the King, that is so reassuring that he bids me come and also it helps me see my sin when I don’t readily respond to my husband and children when they seek restoration.

I often still hold contempt or make them work for my community again.  I need to remember the sweet mercy of God – how he attends my prayers.  I need to love to see that in my own life and relationships.

Other reads: 1 John 5:14, Psalm 66.19-20, Hebrews 4.15-16