Why Hospitality Matters

Hospitality is defined as “the friendly, generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers”. In the South, hospitality is a hallmark, an expectation and a legacy. Throughout the Bible, hospitality is a culture, a renewal and, sometimes, a test. We know it when we see it; and we know it when we don’t!

We can safely say that we know what hospitality is. What we can’t always, articulate, though, is why it matters. Here are 3 ways that hospitality makes a difference to those extending it and those receiving it.

  • Hospitality reflects God

Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that we are made in the image of God. That means that we are a “copy” of God. Do we have all the attributes and power of God? No. Certainly there are things that He can do that we cannot.

The other side of that, however, is that there is nothing in our nature that is not ALSO present in God. Throughout Scripture we see that God’s people, His angels and Christ himself practiced hospitality with family, friends, neighbors and even enemies. As we become more like Christ, we should welcome opportunities to practice hospitality because it shows others what God is like.

  • Hospitality equalizes humanity

Quite often, the word hospitality brings to mind a meal, perhaps the celebration of a special occasion or holiday. Gathering to eat is a picture of our humanity and our need for physical nourishment. No matter what else is different about our lives, all people are equal in their hunger and need for food. Preparing and sharing meals is a constant, tangible reminder of our humanity.

  • Hospitality invites community

Recently, I heard a story about a women whose neighbor was not a believer. Even though the women was friendly and tried to reach out to the neighbor, the non-believer was skeptical of the woman’s motives. And, the non-believer had experience with other Christians that made her not trust them! Over time, the two became friends. When asked when she realized they could be friends, the non-believer said, “When she let me in to her dirty house.” 

Let that sink in for a moment…the woman didn’t make a delicious meal; she didn’t set a gorgeous table; the flowers were not fresh; there were things out of place and “honey-dos” undone…And none of that mattered! The invitation to come, sit and share a cup of coffee and a conversation was more about authenticity and transparency than it was about a perfect setting or a practiced presentation of the Gospel.

Eventually, that invitation into a dirty house became the foundation of a friendship that led to the non-believer’s acceptance of Christ. We may never know what small act of hospitality means to someone else (Hebrews 13:2) but we can ALWAYS be sure that hospitality matters, maybe even for eternity!

Dawson Women believe that hospitality is important to our lives as women and as Christ-followers! For the last four years, we have intentionally practiced “community & conversation” through numerous TABLE groups throughout the Birmingham area. We are in need of additional TABLE Hostesses to continue the growth of this ministry and would love for you to ask God if He would have you serve in this way. To learn more about TABLE, visit dawsonchurch.org/TABLE or contact Kristen Torres at ktorres@dawsonchurch.org

 

 

I Got A Rock

by Kristen Torres

I love to watch the classic Peanut Gang movies every holiday. In “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, when Charlie Brown goes trick-or-treating with his friends wearing a ghost costume with a few too many holes, he has the same unenthusiastic response as he leaves each house, “I got a rock.”  Unlike Charlie Brown, I love collecting rocks! Whether it be a casual walk, a hike in the woods with family, a vacation spot, or simply a memorable moment, I love to find just the right rock for the occasion!

stagnantRecently, I had the opportunity to go on a staff retreat…a true retreat. While taking some personal time to reflect and practice the presence of God, I meandered through God’s glorious creation and, of course, collected a couple of rocks. One rock was found near a pool of stagnant water and the other one near a vibrant stream.

In Altar’d, we are reminded that “in the symbol language of Scripture, a rock is the symbol for Jesus and water is the Holy Spirit.” (p. 170) Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38) flowing

On my walk and talk with the Lord, I listened…a lot. I thanked Him that His Spirit in me does not look like a stagnant and mucky pool of water (rock #1) and I recognized, once again, the precious gift of Living Water flowing through me (rock #2).

Near the end of the trail, when I found a patch of moss shaped like a heart, the Spirit led me to hum the hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”

Over time, I’ve found many rocks for my collection but none more precious than the Rock of Ages.

moss

Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace;

streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.

Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come;

and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God;

he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!

Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;

here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

When did Jesus Suffer?

“Jesus had no unrighteousness because He never let unrighteousness take root…But as a human, He had needs and instincts through which unrighteousness can enter. This is why He could be tempted.” (Altar’d, page 115)

Because He never let unrighteousness take root, He did not sin. In Altar’d, Jennifer Kennedy Dean writes, “Sin has no access to God and He is completely immune to it”,  (Altar’d, page 111). That is true. However, Jesus was fully human and sin DID have access to Him.

Jesus was tempted. The most notable account is in Luke 4 when He was tempted by the devil for forty days. Certainly, that was not the only time He was tempted. Those human needs and instincts were with Him for His entire life on earth. I guess I’ve always thought of Jesus flicking temptation away like a pesky flea. The temptation came because He was fully man but at the same time He was fully God so in my thinking, He did what God does and it was over.

That is not what scripture says!

“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:18

38blogphotoWhen I think of Jesus suffering, I think of Him suffering on the cross, which He did! But He suffered more than that. Scripture says He learned obedience through His suffering (Hebrews 5:8-9). Ultimately, all of the suffering made Him ready to be “obedient to death – even death on the cross” (Philippians 2:2) becoming the author of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). All that suffering was before the cross, in preparation for the cross!

In my un-altar’d state I try desperately to flick temptation away like I thought Jesus did. After all, I ought to be able to do that since He is in me. And here I am again, trying harder, instead of dying deeper. When I do that, I am still living under the law. The law tells us what we should be doing but does not provide the power needed to do it. “The law came to the flesh from the outside, demanding obedience but not providing the power to obey”, (Altar’d, page 119).

God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that. The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.” Romans 8:3-4 MSG

As believers, we have the power of the Holy Spirit inside us. Jesus suffered in temptation but He overcame it by leaning in to Father God. His human flesh did not do it, so why do we think ours can? “His obedience was in keeping His man soul subjected to the indwelling Spirit,” (Altar’d, page 120). Our obedience is in dying to ourselves and yielding to that same Holy Spirit’s resurrecting power – the same power that raised Jesus from the dead! (Ephesians 1:19-20)

Jesus suffered in temptation. What does that mean to you?

Box of Rocks

“Everyone has their own box of rocks,” my friend said. That stuck with me for the rest of the day and I woke up the next morning with that box of rocks still on my mind. What a great analogy for painful life experiences. Life beats us all up. No matter who you are, if you live very long, the rocks are coming. And they contribute significantly to who we become.

What are we to do with that box of rocks we have collected? marilynjohnsonphoto

Some of those who have been hurt by rocks hold them close to their chest and thrust those same rocks at anyone who comes near.

Some bury their head so far into their rocks they become almost unrecognizable. Their most glaring attribute is the markings of the rocks pressed into their face.

Some hold onto the rocks with a death grip. The rocks become a trophy that cannot be pried from their fist.

Still others don’t appear to have any rocks. Where is their box? What is the difference?

In Jeremiah 17:5-10, God gave us a comparison of two men who had the same rocks thrown at them. Both men faced heat and drought. However, one man is “like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.” While the other is “like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers—Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.” (The Message)

Same rocks, different results. Why? One man trusted in himself. Because our rocks are so personal, we are sometimes deceived into thinking we have to deal with them ourselves. We let God “help” but ultimately we think it is our responsibility alone. Flesh delivers death.

“…flesh thinks only flesh can straighten flesh out, so flesh had better be vigilant.” (Altar’d, page 17)

The other man? I believe he had altar’d his flesh. Died to control. Died to self pity. Died to personal expectations. What we see in his life is the power of resurrection. Spirit gives life!

“When we read that He [Jesus] is able to help those who are being tempted because He Himself was tempted, I think it is not simply saying that now Jesus knows how it feels to be tempted, so He can cheer us on when we are tempted. I think it is saying that Jesus overcame sin and won the victory over temptation . . . Therefore, when we are facing temptation, we need only yield to His life and His power running through us. . . Don’t fight harder against the temptation; instead yield more fully to his life.” (Altar’d  page 117-118)

Jesus had rocks thrown at Him in every sense of the word. He took every one of those rocks and claimed victory over temptation. He did it for me and you.

Give Him your box of rocks and rest in His victory! Altar’d rocks! Oh what He could do with that!

Marilyn is a wife, mother of two married children, and Nana to six precious little boys and one baby girl. After retiring from teaching Math at Jacksonville State University, she and her husband now live in Birmingham, AL. She holds the Basic and Advanced Women’s Ministry Certificates from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She has a heart for ministering to women and a passion for teaching the Word of God.

Thirsty

thirsty Vincent has been in the garage for at least an hour.  He is bent over paper; paint and markers in hand at our new garage craft center.  His glasses slide down his nose so he peers over them like an old man, his hair sticking up in the back, paint smeared on his shirt and pants.  I check on him between loads of laundry and the unloading and loading of the dishwasher, between the refilling of Luisa’s straw cup.  Eventually, the back door slams.  He steps into the kitchen, creation in hand.

“Momma for you!”  He peers at me over his glasses with a big, proud smile.

I am struck speechless for a moment then exclaim, “I LOVE IT!”

I stare at the painting and the lesson hits deep in my heart.  You must grow weary with me, God.  Always having to be so obvious.  Having to send a child to bring home the point You’ve been whispering to my heart over the last few months.

In my son’s artwork I see streams running down from the cross.  Surely Vincent was not thinking of streams of Living Water as he painted his cross creation?

“Vincent, what is this a picture of?” I ask.

“Momma you know that place we go where we dress up?”

“Church?”  I reply.

“Yes.  This is church,” he states matter-of-factly.

I see the dome now and yet I ask him about the blue.

“That’s where we walk up,” he says.

He sees the blue going up, a sidewalk of sorts, and I see the blue flowing down.  I wonder if the brown paint ran out and blue was the next best thing?  Yet I know what God is trying to say to me through Vincent’s sweet creation.  Living Water.  Living Water.  Living Water.

“‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” (John 7:37-39)

Grown people.  Tiny humans.  Relationships.  My inability to muster enough self-control and strength to live the holy life I am called to live.  These things make me thirsty.  At times, they make me weary.

Disease.  Sickness.  Current events.  They suck the life out of us, literally and figuratively.  We just might collapse under the weight of it all.

In these times we need to remember to drink of the Living Water found only in Jesus Christ.

As Jennifer Kennedy Dean reminds us on Day 14 of her book Altar’d:

You must decrease and He must increase.  Let your littleness be absorbed by His greatness.  Let your weakness be swept away by His strength.  Let your failure, your fear, your struggles, your bitterness…. let it all be flushed out by the powerful flow of His life in you.  Take your eyes off yourself.  Fix your eyes on Him.  Hide yourself in Him.

In my closet I have a place of prayer.  Pinned to the wall are prayer requests, quotes, scriptures, and one tiny painting.  An orange cross, a blue stream flowing down, a reminder to drink deeply of the Living Water offered me in Jesus Christ.

Sarah, a native Texan, now lives in Birmingham AL with her husband and four children.  A licensed speech therapist, she now manages her home full-time.  With a cup of coffee by her side, Sarah writes about mothering, disability, and God’s good purpose in the lives of His children. You can follow her blog at www.morlandt.blogspot.com

Running the Show…

cactus flowerWhen you come across people and circumstances that engage your flesh, you are at a crucifixion moment. Altar that anger, or offense, or fear, or defensiveness, or possessiveness. Right then, before flesh starts running the show. It’s there, but it’s altar’d. Flesh might show up, but it won’t take over. Altar it again and again until one day it doesn’t show up. The altar has done its crucifixion work and you are free of that particular flesh pattern.
(p. 61, Day 11, Altar’d, Jennifer Kennedy Dean)

My flesh seems the most determined to run the show in my marriage and in my mothering. I always thought of myself as a patient, loving, hold no grudge kind of person. Then I was married. Suddenly I found myself sharing a 550 square foot apartment with my new, highly organized, Type A husband. Being somewhat Type B and definitely not organized, I stubbornly refused to cooperate with systems that would make our tiny living quarters more manageable. Labels for our medicine cabinet? Well, no thank you; one large bucket with all the medications thrown in will do. Band-aids in the band-aid box? Nah, searching for translucent band-aids under a mountain of cold/flu bottles builds perseverance! Looking back now I see the flesh of self-centeredness and pride. At the time, I just wanted to win the battle.

Patience? Long-suffering? Wise and temperate words? They are hardly my go-tos in mothering. Flesh. Flesh wants to make its appearance first.

Then there are times God alters our neatly calculated plans for life, motherhood, children, or work and we find ourselves at a crossroads, an altar before us. Will we lay on the altar our expectations of how we thought our lives would be, trusting that God’s plan is eternally more significant and beautiful than anything we could imagine? During the last eight years of mothering I have altar’d my expectations time and time again. Yet it was not until my husband and I were given the privilege of stewarding a special needs child did my knees truly buckle at the altar before me. Total submission to His plan, whether or not I could see the good (Romans 8:28) was His requirement of me. This mothering of precious children, this coming alongside my husband, this caring for a beautiful but vulnerable daughter – this life journey will surely bring me to the altar day after day. May I take my eyes off what I am laying down and raise them instead to the holy God who makes no mistakes; to the God most worthy, most capable of running the show.

Heavenly Father,
You are Perfect Love, Awesome Provider, Righteous Judge
I ask today for the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Please convict me of those patterns of flesh trying to run the show in my work and in my relationships.
I ask today for the strength to submit to the circumstances You have sovereignly allowed in my life.
I open my hands and lay before you my disappointments, my broken dreams, my will.
Loving Father, fill my empty hands with You so that I might accomplish Your purposes for this day.

Amen

Sarah, a native Texan, now lives in Birmingham AL with her husband and four children. A licensed speech therapist, she now manages her home full-time. With a cup of coffee by her side Sarah writes about mothering, disability, and God’s good purpose in the lives of His children. You can follow her blog at www.morlandt.blogspot.com

Hold it all together

On Monday, I left my house to begin my full scheduled day with what felt like a thousand things running through my mind. I was praying for my grandson who had a high fever, thinking about the direction I would take with my Wednesday morning Bible study, wondering where I was at with my Alzheimer’s mother and trying to solve the puzzle of who in the world I would vote for for president.

I also had my favorite Christian radio station on but, I must admit, I was pretty unaware it until the coverage faltered a little. I clicked the down button on my steering wheel to my next favorite station and the exact same song was playing on that station as well. I clicked back and forth wondering if I had hit the wrong button.

I had not.

“Okay God,” I thought, “I am listening.” And I did.

The bombardment of thoughts and pressure were lifted gently off my shoulders as I listened to Casting Crowns deliver this living word to me from my Abba Father.

“Just Be Held”

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who wont let go

Start At The Very Beginning

For what seems like a very long time, we’ve been talking about finding a venue to share in-depth information about what God is doing in the hearts of the women of the Dawson Family of Faith. This blog is that venue and we are so grateful to God for His timing and provision as we expand WOVEN to include this method of communication.

The WOVEN ministry is designed to involve all women. It is not something a woman “joins”. Rather, it is something a woman “is”! As Paul encouraged the Colossians, we seek to be “woven into a tapestry of love”. WOVEN offers a variety of ways to be involved throughout each year: studies that focus on Scripture and God’s work in individual lives and the corporate body of the church; the TABLE ministry that opens homes in the community for intentional conversation about God; MOMS & MORE that explores aspects of Godly parenting and grand-parenting; and SPECIAL EVENTS that focus on specific areas of need and/or concern.

Our goals for this blog, as well as our overall online presence, are:

  1. (the most important!) – Share how God is working in, around and through WOVEN women.
  2. Provide a central source of information for anything and everything pertaining to the WOVEN ministry.
  3. Provide a consistent place for interaction with our members and visitors.
  4. Direct members and visitors to the Dawson website for information about ministries and programs of the entire family of faith.

We hope you’ll visit here often, learn what God is doing at Dawson and share what He’s doing in your life as well!

Because of Him,

Kristen Torres, Minister of Spiritual Development

Dawson Family of Faith – 205.871.7324