Tag Archives: Hospitality

We Do the Caring and God Does the Healing

We Do the Caring and God Does the Healing

Here at Cedar Hills we believe hospitality is a core characteristic of how we live out the gospel. In “The Simplest Way to Change the World,” Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements describe the power of gospel hospitality this way:

Grasping that hospitality is a meaningful way that we care for spiritually sick people is why we do this, and it will be the lasting power we need to make this a way of life. Because ultimately the end goal of hospitality is care and healing – we do the caring and Jesus does the healing.”

If I’m honest, practicing authenticity, I struggle sometimes with hospitality. For example, the other night when I got home from running some errands my neighbors were out chatting across the street. I looked out the window, thought about going over, but then accepted the excuse that I didn’t have the emotional energy to go over and care for my neighbors. I was tired and not in the mood. I realized, as I reflected on this quote from Dustin and Brandon, that I sometimes feel like I not only have to do the caring, but I feel responsible for the healing. I choose not to care because I feel inadequate. I know they have brokenness and hurt (like all of us), and I don’t feel strong enough to help them. Today I am challenged that all I need to do is just listen, and trust God to do the healing. As I reflect on this truth I am encouraged. I feel like I can answer the Facebook message with kind hospitality, because I don’t have to have the answers. I don’t have to carry their burdens.  God just needs me to listen and care. I can simply be there for those who need relationships, and rely on God to provide the wisdom and strength to bring healing when and how He wills. God commands us to show hospitality in Hebrew 13:1-2.

Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.

Brothers and sisters, let’s be encouraged today. Let us not neglect to show hospitality to our coworkers and neighbors.

God help us to choose to show hospitality. Give us the strength to enter into the messiness of each other’s lives, knowing that YOU bring the healing as we simply care. Amen!

Steve Poole
Director of Youth & Young Adults

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Investing in the Lives of Others

Investing in the Lives of Others

What mental images emerge when you are presented with passages that encourage hospitality? Hospitality can come in many forms and expressions. As Christians we are called to practice biblical hospitality and practice it with joy! Some Scripture examples are:

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” ~ Romans 12:13.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” ~ Hebrews 13:2.

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. ~ 1 Peter 4:9.

In a practical sense, hospitality is about investing in other’s lives and learning how you can best serve those around you.

In this month’s article, I am going to briefly highlight three examples of excellent hospitality that I have witnessed over the last few months.  These people are not aware that I am using them as examples, but I am going to point out their positive examples anyway.

My first positive example is Jan and Alan Crandall. If you have attended Cedar Hills for a while, you have most likely been invited to the Crandall’s home for a meal or some sort of gathering. Alan and Jan make a point to intentionally invite people into their home, usually at least one time a week (and that is low-balling it!). Many reading this can attest to experiencing the Crandall’s wonderful hospitality and being made to feel like you are the most important person in the world.

My second positive example is Lore and Shanna Swartzendruber and Deveri Johnson. Last May we were in a Saturate Group with Deveri, Lore, and Shanna. There was a large group that met at the church on Monday evenings. Eventually, smaller groups broke off and met in individual homes. Deveri was always willing to have that meeting at her home and she has a gift of making her guests feel welcome. The Swartzendrubers’ also seemed excited about inviting people into their activities. They were going camping during a holiday weekend that extended into Monday and they insisted that the group come to their campsite and join them.  This has led to an open invite of having the group and anyone else join them for dinner every Monday night. This is a great informal time of fellowship, loud laughter, and people not leaving until well after mid-night. Something special is happening at that meeting. People feel welcome and free to be themselves and the Holy Spirit is doing the work. The freedom and love that the Swartzendrubers’ encourage is apparent.

My third example is the food pantry crew led by Darlene Devries. Recently the food pantry had to undergo a routine inspection, which was passed with flying colors. The inspector told Darlene that everything was great. What really impressed the inspector was the spirit of hospitality. The people who use the pantry’s services reported that ours was the friendliest. It was also the one where they felt the most cared for. The pantry volunteers exhibited joy and excellent service to the pantry patrons. Jesus is using the hospitality of the food pantry to act as His loving hands in this community.

There are many more examples of excellent hospitality going on within our midst. We are the kind of people who make it a habit to be hospitable to others and one another.

Gary Sager
Ambassador of Care

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Planting Seeds of Hospitality

Planting Seeds of Hospitality

Hospitality has been extended to me and I’d like to describe it to you.

Imagine sitting in a garden surrounded by beauty. Everywhere you look there is a new type of flower or plant to take in. Also, in this garden is a flowing waterfall with ponds that reflect the setting sun. The sound of it is relaxing and draws you in.

Beside you is a friend. A person that wants to listen and hear what’s on your heart. A friend that has made time for you. They are happy to listen and encourage you on your journey. This friend both affirms you and provides direction as needed.

This setting exists. It exists in the front and backyard of the Landhuis house. I find myself drawn in, cared for, listened to, affirmed, and receiving wisdom whenever I go there.

This is a picture of hospitality. The kind of offering we can provide to others. For some the setting will be a bustling coffee shop or a front porch restoration project. For others a simple walk in the park will give the encouragement needed to get through another day.

At Cedar Hills we are the kind of people that offer hospitality using whatever gifts have been made available to us.

Lindsey Ungs
Connection & Communication Architect

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Hello Neighbor

Hello Neighbor

Yesterday I complimented my neighbor on his beautiful garden and noted that I had never seen such a large cabbage. He immediately launched into the fine quality compost he picked up for free from the city’s yard waste disposal site and how he tops off his garden with this stuff every couple of years. (I already knew this.)

In the hope of discovering something new I asked him, “How did you start gardening?”

He answered my question by talking about his wife. She grew up on a farm and she was the real gardener. (I did not know this.) I asked a couple of follow-up questions and he might have talked to me all day but my restless dog pulled me away.

As I walked away two thoughts struck me. 1. A little curiosity goes a long way. 2. My neighbors love to chat. I’ve lived in the same neighborhood for almost three decades and I am still discovering new tidbits about my neighbors.

Good hospitality starts with a little curiosity and a listening ear. Maybe you could test out my theory. Strike up a conversation with someone new, be curious, and listen. I imagine that this kind of hospitality will open the door to deeper love of God and neighbor. Let me know how it goes.

 

PS This is not my neighbor and not his cabbage but if you saw a giant cabbage wouldn’t you want to know more??

Kent Landhuis
Pastor of Teaching & Leadership

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The Invitation

The Invitation

Something my husband and I are adamant about is fostering faith at home.  Not the usual morality-based do-this-and-do-that-because-God-says-so law-based faith, but a deep and life-changing faith based on how much God loves them, desires them, and is calling them to use their unique gifts even now to do miraculous things for His kingdom. We teach that we are not able to do good except for the good Jesus has already done for us.  We are not able to love God except that through Jesus, God made His love known and made a way for us to love Him back.  Our worship, our devotion, our love—all because of Jesus FIRST.

Jesus’ interactions with children in the Bible were also not morality based. “Come here, children, and sit on my lap because you do all the good things,” was not the invite.  “Come here, because I am done with my workday and have finished all my other tasks and finally have time for you,” also was not the invite.

The invite is this, “Children, I am pausing my work among these adults, in the middle of this giant crowd who thinks you have less worth as human beings and asking you to just come and enjoy my presence while sitting on my lap without having to prove you are good-enough first to earn it.” That was and is the invitation.

I haven’t always understood children.  I spent most of my adult life as a single or married-but-childless person. Our growing family came late in life, so I had a lot to learn about kids once we started our family.  But my heart is growing and my understanding of their role in the Kingdom is growing.  They are fertile ground for Kingdom principles.  Their clay is shapeable.  It’s not hard and resistant like the rest of us.  And they ask the best questions that I hadn’t even considered!

God’s invite to our children to come and be in His presence is the same He extends to us.  They are not an afterthought. They are not forgotten.  If anything, Jesus lets us know that their unique child-like brains can grasp the kingdom of God better than us.  We can learn from them, their deep trust and simple devotion to a God who calls them not as an afterthought, but as a treasured child of God.

Leah Carolan
Director of Worship & Media

 

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Removal of Intimidation and Fear

Removal of Intimidation and Fear

Walking in for the first time, anxiety can quickly sweep over you. Your breath quickens, your heart races, and you keep your head down so as to not make eye contact with anyone.

This is how I enter new places. Before I go anywhere new I look them up online. I want to see the place before I ever go near it. I want to become familiar with the surroundings, the products, the food, the expectations—anything I can to feel comfortable and informed when I walk in for the first time.

But all the research in the world doesn’t take away every hint of fear. When I arrive I become dependent on a greeter, a clerk, a waitress, a host to point me in the right direction, to give me the next step in a line of expectations.

When I was in seminary in Canada, there were subtle differences I learned about the culture of my new town that often caught me off guard. My new town in the remote prairies of Saskatchewan took their shoes off EVERYWHERE. It was the strangest thing.  Even a trip to the chiropractor involved taking your shoes off at the door and placing them on a little rack. You would enter the office in your socks. In the summer if you were wearing flip flops, you would remember to bring a pair of socks so that you wouldn’t enter barefoot. I was happy to go places with my new seminary friends who could point out these things to me. I could have insulted many had I not known! I definitely was not prepared for the small confrontations when I missed subtle social cues like the shoe removals. I wrongly entered many places with my shoes on to the horror of any onlookers.

At one of my very first visits to a house in Canada, my worship professor who had spent time in U.S., showed me the best possible hospitality I can remember. I entered their house and they quickly pointed out the next steps: “You can hang your coat here. Shoes can be placed over here. If you need a pair of socks, we have some extras right here. When you’re all done, we’re gathering in the living room. Just find a spot on the couches and we’ll start with some light conversation before dinner.”

Their directions weren’t given in a military state of ‘do this and do that,’ but just a gentle guide to help me find comfort in their home. With a few opening comments, I knew what was expected of me.

As an introvert (and in case you didn’t know this about me, I score about as far over on the introvert scale as possible!) these kind directions removed a great deal of fear from my visit to their home. I was welcomed, received, and informed.

Every Sunday we have the possibility of welcoming, receiving and informing others in our midst. We do this because God has extended us the same invitation: We are welcome in His house, we are received in gentleness, and His Word makes it clear what expectations He has of us. At first God seems intimidating, but as we get to know Him, that intimidation is removed and comfort replaces it.

But what a big hurtle fear can be in the process! But as God has welcomed us, we get the supreme privilege of welcoming others in His name.

Leah Carolan
Director of Worship & Media

 

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God Can Use Cinnamon Rolls for His Glory

God Can Use Cinnamon Rolls for His Glory

What does hospitality mean to you? Does it mean a spotless home, a perfectly set table, and great food? Scripture has a different approach to hospitality – it’s not that cleaning and preparing our homes for guests and presenting a nice meal is not part of it. It is just that hospitality in scripture is really a means to an end. Opening the doors of our homes in hospitality is the means to invite people into our lives and hearts. Sharing a loaf of bread with others across the dining table creates opportunities to share the Bread of Life with them. If scrubbing and cleaning our homes becomes our focus, we might miss sharing the mess and dirtiness of our lives with others. If our greatest concern is wondering how a group of people will fit into our home, we may miss the opportunity to make room in our hearts for others. If we worry about making the perfect meal, we may miss sharing the only food that satisfies. If what we are doing in our hospitality interferes with people being encouraged to walk with God, then we are not engaged in Biblical hospitality. God is more interested in caring relationships than the dust behind the couch!

I love the verses in Hebrews 13:1-2. “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” God may be using you to bring someone to His table. Jesus was a wonderful model of hospitality – sharing food with his disciples and serving them as he taught them to care for others.

There are times when you walk into our church or my home and you smell warm cinnamon rolls baking – they smell good – they taste good – and they are a temptation to all weight watchers! But this act of hospitality is so much more – it says “welcome” to a neighbor, friend, church, wedding party, and anyone else who walks through our doors. We will never know when one of these rolls opens the opportunity to share the goodness of God and His love.

Our homes and our lives are indeed the most powerful combination of ministry to our world so don’t be afraid to share God’s love through hospitality. The next time you open your doors to others pray that your heart will magnify Christ in hospitality and point your guests to the only and everlasting meal that will truly fill their souls.

Diane Potter
Hospitality Expert

 

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Welcoming the Stranger

Welcoming the Stranger

Ladies, do you need a spa day? Do you need to be welcomed, listened to, and treated kindly? Does your soul need some tender loving care?

For Christmas my grandma bought me a spa facial and recommended that I use Paula at Elevate Salon by Westdale. Let me tell you about experiencing Paula’s hospitality.

Paula greeted me at the door with a smile and a great spirit. She asked me about myself and my day and listened to what I had to say. I knew she was listening because she followed up with questions about what I had said. She took me to a calm and quiet room where I was able to get comfortable. Once settled in, she described the process of the facial and asked what my preferences were. The facial was a wonderful experience, after which, she offered me a cool drink.

When I left the spa, I felt a sense of gratitude for her hospitality. What she had offered me was not something you could buy. Her bright spirit made me feel welcomed and safe. Paula showed me a great example of hospitality. She welcomed me, a stranger, into her life for an hour.

We have the privilege of doing this for others. We can invite strangers into our lives and homes and treat them like friends. If this idea sends panic to your heart, here’s a reminder that it’s not about entertaining. It’s not about impressing someone with perfect house décor, ‘Martha Stewart style’ meals, or well-mannered children. Entertainment is a focus on self (on the home, on my kids’ behavior, on me). Entertainment says, “Look at me and my things.”

Hospitality, however, is an ability to focus on others. Hospitality is a way of saying, “There you are, I’ve been waiting for you.” Welcoming people into my home, offering them a tall glass of something hot or cold, and listening to them is the best gift my family and I can give to a weary soul. And every soul is weary at times.

My husband and I were reminded of this recently when we invited someone into our home. After eating and drinking and being cared for, he shared some legal challenges he was facing. He felt much shame around this issue and that made him want to keep his situation a secret. But in our home, with our care, he felt comfortable sharing his challenges with us. And when you’re able to speak your shame out loud, you force the shame to shrink. My husband and I offered this young man a gift. The gift of someone who listens and cares. And, here’s the secret to moving in the direction of hospitality. It’s not just the stranger that benefits from hospitality. Offering hospitality to others creates joy in the heart of the giver.

Lindsey Ungs
Connection & Communication Architect

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Just a Thought

Just a Thought

As I write this article I am praying for Max, as he is fighting a cancer diagnosis. I very much consider Max to be a father in the faith. I first met Max, and his wife Peggy, at Berean Baptist Church’s college Sunday School class. They were the teachers and Peggy always made sure we had homemade breakfast. I chose to attend this church during college for two main reasons: I could walk there easily from my dorm, and FREE HOMEMADE BREAKFAST! While the hospitality of breakfast may have drawn me to Max, and Berean Baptist Church, I soon discovered a much more fulfilling and transformative hospitality. Max offered to share more than just a meal, or Sunday mornings with me, but he shared his self-control. What? Can you really share self-control?  Max asked me once, “What do you need from me?” As we talked I shared that I wanted a daily “quiet time” with God. I knew that this would be a key to spiritual growth, but I didn’t have the self-control needed to be faithful. So Max proposed a strategy he humbly named “Just a thought…” He invited me into his personal time with Jesus, a part of that intimate time studying God’s Word. Each day at 4am, Max would get up and do his own daily “quiet time.” Then, Max would write me a “Just a Thought” email containing a Bible passage, devotional material, and some reflection/application questions. My commitment, to redeem the time Max was sacrificing daily, was to read each email, read God’s word, and write a reply. In this way Max’s self-control and dedication were reckoned to me by this accountability. I couldn’t have defined it like this 15 years ago, but as I look back, Max was sharing not only his faith, but specifically the fruit of self-control with me.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

When I ran into Max a few years ago God had called him to pastor a church in Prairie City. Max continues to write “Just a thought…”, and now has over a hundred people (from several countries) following that devotional. God transformed my life through His Spirit, and Max’s generous heart. God has grown Max’s faith and influence as a result of his faithfulness to show me generous hospitality. This is a testimony to the power of the Body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:7 says, “A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good.”

God put you and me in His Body and He equipped us with “the Spirit” for “the common good”.  Max’s example challenges us to change our paradigm of church. Maybe it’s NOT, ‘What did I get out of it?’ but, ‘How did I generously bless someone else today?’  Radical hospitality is sharing our blessings with one another for the “common good!”  Just a thought…

Steve Poole
Director of Youth & Young Adults

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Hospitality – Yes You Can!

Hospitality – Yes You Can!

My material grandmother was the classic depiction of hospitality. She served in the kitchen at all the church gatherings. She sent care packages to distant relatives in Germany in the late 1940’s, after World War II. Her holiday gatherings were spectacular, and she always had some kind of cake or cookies ready, in case someone stopped by to visit. Don’t get me wrong, she loved doing this for Jesus, but she seemed to come by it pretty easily. “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:13) just came to her naturally.

My father’s family was very poor. I remember hearing stories about dad and his siblings picking up coals by the railroad tracks to help heat the house in winter, and I was reminded many times how they hunted for game to help feed the family. When I was home from college in the summers, I worked at a gas station/convenience store that was very near to the neighborhood where my father was raised. There were many regular customers, who upon hearing my last name, and affirming who my grandparents were, went on to say what loving people they were. One person mentioned that he lived in a very troubled household, and he spent many nights at my grandparent’s home. He fondly described how they fed and sheltered him. What an example of the Bible saying, “Is this not the fast which I chose …Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house” (Isaiah 58:6-7).

My mother was the complete opposite of her mother. We never had company in our home. Mom would get extremely anxious if a relative, fellow church member, or stranger showed up at our door. Our house was a complete mess with four wild boys running around but, me and my brother’s friends adored my mom. She would bring Kool-Aid to a whole group of boys playing in the backyard. She would listen to all of the ridiculous stories that little boys and teenage young men tell. She would pack way too many kids into one vehicle for rides home from school or a trip to the movies. I remember multiple testimonies at my mother’s funeral that both friends and family shared about her kindness. No, she was not her mother, but she did, without ever recognizing it, show hospitality motivated by love.

My dad also left a different legacy of hospitality. Years after his passing, an old school mate reminded me about the multiple hours that my dad spent in our home helping this friend memorize Bible verses for the Awana program. This young man went on to receive the Meritorious Award, which was the program’s highest recognition. He is now an Elder and full-time Music Minister at his church. Another classmate and friend, who my dad drove to and from football practice and games since our early Junior Tackle days (5th grade) through high school, approached me at our 35th High School Reunion, and said, “Sager, when my mom told me about your dad’s passing years ago, it hurt. Man, he was a good dude.” Multiple, seemingly insignificant steps can lead to great impact.

There is a common misconception that before practicing hospitality, one needs to be gifted in entertaining, cooking, and home decoration. Because of this misconception, many of us have bought the lie that hospitality is beyond our capacity. Initially, I was going to just share stories about my grandparents. I was actually planning on stating that my parents weren’t great at hospitality, but then God convicted me.

Jesus knew that one of the greatest keys to a person’s heart is by showing them kindness, which is a form of hospitality motivated by love. Think about it: What person, aside from your immediate family, has had a great influence in your life? Can you name your favorite primary school teacher? What’s the best thing anyone ever did for you? If you can tie back any of your answers to these questions to some form of kindness displayed to you, there are high chances that you were shown a biblical form of hospitality. My guess is that these acts of hospitality weren’t glamorous, but they were born out of love.

The great thing about kindness and hospitality is that anyone can demonstrate them.  In fact, I bet that you do demonstrate kindness frequently. My encouragement is to do it more, and do it with intentionality. This is love in action. “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

Gary Sager
Ambassador of Care

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