Hospitality. Practice hospitality. That word practice is pretty important, it seems. I have always in the past been someone who practiced hospitality. I love having people in my home! A few years ago, we were counting the number of people through our home in a year by the many hundreds. The last couple of years, due to extenuating circumstances (my mom needing more care until her death in April, and then foot surgery in August that I’m still not completely healed from), have resulted in my being out of the habit of hospitality. Not good! No matter if you’ve done something a million times, if you don’t practice regularly, you will get rusty. It’s just a fact. So, how to get back into the habit of practicing hospitality, or maybe start!
Here are a few ideas to help us:
- Start small and keep it simple: Invite 1 friend for popcorn and a movie, or a couple over for ice cream and Cookie Butter topping (Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter is absolutely the best!)
- Lower your obsessiveness over having a perfect house: pick up and clean one room, if your house is really a mess, and lead your guests there. Or, let it motivate you to spend some time decluttering and organizing, but invite guests first, so you don’t delay for 6 months because your house is too messy. Don’t embarrass your guests by apologizing for your house. They are there to see you. They probably have their own mess at home. Show them love, make them feel at home, listen to them, care. That’s what’s important. Relax.
- Get something on the schedule out a month or so to give yourself time to prepare, but get it scheduled.
- When the Lord prompts you to invite someone, obey the prompting.
- Think of a meal that you can make by heart and invite someone who’s lonely to share it.
- Invite someone to come for tea (or coffee). Serve tea/coffee and maybe have a plate of crackers and cheese, maybe an apple cut up, possibly some of your favorite chocolates out, and use your favorite cups or mugs with a small plate for each of you, inexpensive napkins that are pretty, get an assortment of good teas (Vanilla cream, chamomile, rooibos, raspberry zinger…). Lay it out on the coffee table or kitchen table before your guest arrives, and it will say, “Welcome!” If you have small children, have an area with toys set up to keep them occupied, and if they’re old enough, send them to another part of the house to play, so you and your guest can visit in (relative) peace.
- Think of questions to ask and be a good listener. Pray with and for your guest. Share what the Lord is doing in your life and be an encourager.
Once we’ve begun (again), repeat, and practice! Expand to larger groups and more often, as you feel more and more comfortable. If we ask God and pray for Him to show us who He wants us to have over, and to lead the conversation, and to bless our time together, He will. If we do it for the Lord, He’ll help us to forget about ourselves and be able to practice the true meaning of the word hospitality, which comes from the word, “hospital.” We’ll be a means of bringing His healing, encouragement and love to others. So, who are you going to invite this week?
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- Make your main food the Bible.Set goals for reading it, (start now, if you didn’t at New Year’s). Plan how much and when you’re going to read, and follow a Bible-reading plan. (I use the one linked to, from Discipleship Journal.) Make it your first priority.
- Being a good mom, you try not to let your children spoil their appetites for healthy food. What you’re feeding yourself may be good, but is it the best? Is it nourishing your spiritual life, or are you ruining your appetite for eating a healthy, meaty meal from God’s Word?
- Think about the “junk food” you may be feeding yourself every day! Write down what and how much you’re reading and listening to each day until you know exactly what you’re feeding yourself. Just as you may have no idea how many extra calories you’re taking in each day that have no nutritional value, so you may not have thought about how much your reading and listening material is not good for you. You need to purpose to listen to and read that which will build you up and make you a strong, healthy Christian!
- Shut your phone off sometimes. Don’t be controlled by it.
- Stay off of the internet until a certain time of the day, and make sure it’s only after you’ve spent a planned amount of time in God’s Word. At first it will seem legalistic, but you’re retraining your appetites.
- Be intentional and purposeful about what you’re reading besides the Bible: We read so many words each day that we can become unaware that we’re even reading!
- Take a fast from whatever you “can’t go a day without.” Stay away one day a week, or one week a month. Spend extra time in the Word during your fast. Set a timer when you get on facebook, or online in general, or keep a log sheet to log in the start time and end time you’re online, and total the amount of time each day.
- At the times you normally get online, spend time in the Word instead or have a Bible-reading time with your children (the little ones can color, or play quietly). Train them early to respect the Word of God.
- We may not realize that those seconds and minutes add up: keep a record, then reduce or eliminate some of them and replace with Bible reading, prayer and other activities which set your mind and heart on things above. (e.g. Times when we’re on our phone, online, checking email, on facebook, on pinterest, commenting, reading links and blogs and articles, doing “research,” reading a chapter here or there from the latest book, watching a video or reading a post on a subject we’re interested in or the latest “liked” thing on facebook. Use those minutes-turned-into hours each day for building up your faith—setting your heart and affections on things above.
- Instead of checking your phone for messages, & immediately responding, or getting online multiple times a day, plan ahead a time when you’ll respond to all your messages. Let your thoughts be interrupted by God’s Word. Place Scripture around your home to catch your eye, put it on your window sill or counter by your sink, on the fridge, on your medicine cabinet mirror, wherever you spend at least a few minutes a day. Cause your mind to feed on the Word of God. While driving, listen to sermons downloaded, tape Scripture to your dash. Play the Bible on your Ipod or MP3 player while falling asleep, while riding in the car, while cleaning, etc. Whenever you normally play music, play Scripture instead. Let God control your thoughts.
- Whenever you’re reading, ask yourself these questions: Is what I’m reading true, according to the Word of God? Will it build up my faith? Is it necessary to read right now? Am I the one to read it? (or pass it on?) Am I obeying the verse, “I will set no vile thing before my eyes”? Even if it’s true, am I guarding my heart or will this affect me emotionally or manipulate me for no good purpose? If there’s a need, can I pray for it without knowing all the details? Am I violating Scripture which tells me not to know the details of sin? Am I being a Godly example to my children and others by watching or reading this now? Am I neglecting other responsibilities while doing this? Am I doing a good thing, but at the wrong time, in the wrong way, too much or with the wrong heart and attitude?
- If you have the habit of watching or reading the news daily: If you are in the habit of doing so at the beginning or ending of your day, ask, “Is this a spiritually healthy activity to start and end my day with?” Can I trust the source? Can I copy their example as a person? What example am I setting for my children?
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