Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Biblical Requirement of Leadership: Hospitality

A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. I Timothy 3:2 (The Message)

CUPC is a blessed congregation. We have many ministry families and many others who are incredible church leaders. Each year we endeavor to equip and train leaders. In looking towards 2010 many ideas are pounding my thoughts. In pursuing things that I feel are important to God as well as traits that I feel are important to equip others I have stumbled upon the word hospitable numerous times.

In a very literal and true sense when we think of hospitable we think in terms of showing hospitality in our own homes. While this is a very true meaning of the word I believe hospitality reaches beyond the confines of a particular home. In fact I believe hospitality must be an important part of our church.

While I can entertain in my home I may not necessarily have a spirit or attitude of hospitality. I Peter 4:9 states we should offer hospitality without grumbling. In my casual way of thinking hospitality should be given with a happy heart. As an evangelist wife many years ago I was in many homes where I was shown hospitality with a happy heart. Unfortunately my husband also preached a revival or two where I felt everything but a happy heart from the pastor's wife as she entertained us. How uncomfortable I felt!

Titus 1:8 does not only admonish us to be given to hospitality but rather be a lover of hospitality. How much better would our guest feel if we LOVED entertaning? We are able to minister to others through hospitality according to Romans 12:12-13 and I Peter 4:9. Hebrews 13:2 instructs us to be hospitable to strangers. I believe when visitors come to our churches we are given the opportunity to express hospitality to strangers.

The scripture gives us many examples of hospitality. The Shunammite woman in II Kings 4:8-37 fed and even later added a guest room onto her home for Elisah, the man of God. According to Genesis chapter 18 Abraham entertained angels. Mary and Martha used their home to entertain according to Luke 10.

Hospitality is simply the friendly reception or generous treatment to guests or strangers. It is making welcome others with warmth. I believe hospitality can be likened to 'pampering'. Pampering goes above and beyond what is expected or required. It pays attention to little or minor details. Regularly I go to a particular nail salon for a manicure and pedicure. At this location I receive an adequate service for the dollars and tip I give. However, on rare occasion I go to a very nice day spa. This facility is very warm and inviting from the time I walk in the front door. Immediately I am greeted with a warm smile and soft spoken kind word. After a few seconds of causal conversation the receptionist moves into 'business'. Once the professional providing my particular service for the day retrieves me from the lobby I am offered a cool drink of water. Literally no detail escapes this location. Candles are burning, music is playing softly, lights are dim, & snacks and juices are available at no charge. I'm given a soft warm robe to wear and soft socks for my feet. The dressing area is very lavish, too. Each employee I come in contact with speaks peacefully and friendly to me. No one ever walks near me without a warm smile and friendly word. I leave feeling like a princess.

I pray in 2010 I can impart a true meaning of hospitality into every minister's wife and female leader of CUPC. This message bolted through my thoughts today at our altar. One of the men brought an obvious homeless lady to me. I was standing in front of all the other ladies in our altar area. We had several other visitors praying. I wrapped my arms around this not so clean lady and began to pray with her. I admit at first I walked thru the routine of being a good pastor's wife. A few minutes into prayer compassion gripped me and I began to weep as I prayed. After I prayed this simple lady said, "Thank you for touching me while you prayed." I smiled and was not quite sure how to respond. Then she looked at me square in the eye and said, "I feel so emotional. Why?" I shared with her about the love and mercy of God. She asked if God really loved her and begin to share some ugly details of her life. Much to my dismay none of the other ladies responded to this ladies walk to the altar. I KNOW some where praying with others and many ladies were singing, playing instruments, or teaching classes. Yet, I wonder how many were praying for their own needs or not praying at all? This has convicted me. I want every person who walks thru the doors of CUPC to feel loved and welcome regardless of their social status. Every little detail must be attended. This lady was a stranger. If we can't entertain her at an altar how will we ever entertain others in our homes?

Yes, this was a GREAT exception....our church has baptized more than 200 persons this year. We do MANY things for the poor. I am not addressing me being the only one praying with this lady rather maybe we need to have a hospitality radar set and make sure we don't miss a single person.

I am committed to hospitality. I will teach it, I will embrace it, I will live it. I realize many use these scriptures to refer to a Bishop or a pastor. I, however, realize this is a requirement that will involve every person in leadership. I look forward to will be a teaching year for me!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Absolutes and Accountability

God has established a divine pattern of accountability to Him. Many embrace a doctorine of christian or scriptural liberties. Since the creation of man, God has established a divine pattern of accountability to Him.

Genesis 2:15-17 (The Message): God took the Man and set him down in the Garden of Eden to work the ground and keep it in order. God commanded the Man, “You can eat from any tree in the garden, except from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. Don't eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you're dead."

Jeremiah chapter 7 reveals God’s accountability plan. Living in a culture that accepts relativism over absolute truth causes us to disagree with the fact that when God speaks there is no room for discussion. God says what He means and means what He says. However, the modern way of thinking is getting far from this concept of absolutes.

Jeremiah was called to speak the Word of the Lord to the people. Jeremiah 7:8-11(The Message): Get smart! Your leaders are handing you a pack of lies, and you're swallowing them! Use your heads! Do you think you can rob and murder, have sex with the neighborhood wives, tell lies nonstop, worship the local gods, and buy every novel religious commodity on the market—and then march into this Temple, set apart for my worship, and say, "We're safe!" thinking that the place itself gives you a license to go on with all this outrageous sacrilege? A cave full of criminals! Do you think you can turn this Temple, set apart for my worship, into something like that? Well, think again. I've got eyes in my head. I can see what's going on. God's Decree!

Years before Jeremiah’s time God reveled to Moses His will for the conduct of His chosen people. This was not optional—it was law. This included the Ten Commandments. God’s message through Jeremiah was quite clear—you have been disobedient and you must be accountable.

It seems many people are confused with the fact that because good things are happening in a church, organization or family the relationship with God is correct. Some justify acts of kindness and church growth as tolerance from God of sin within a church or person. However, God warned that doing some things right did not cover other wrongs. Our destiny is not based solely on love, tolerance, giving to the poor, or other good deeds or actions in life. The Scripture is very clear that one is not saved by works (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Jeremiah said God would not excuse their sinfulness, even if they went to the right place to worship. God was holding them accountable. God knows what we are doing. His sees every move (Jeremiah 7:11).

I pray that I will not embrace a relative attitude. I want to accept God’s Word as an absolute for my life. I must be accountable for every action, deed, and word. Just as Adam and Eve were commanded to not eat of the tree I believe there are scriptural commands for my life. I can’t blame the serpent, my spouse, or others for my actions or motives. God will hold me accountable for every action.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Recipe for a Happy Marriage

1 cup of consideration
2 cups of praise
1 reasonable budget
2 cups of flattery carefully concealed
2 cups milk of human kindness
1 gallon faith in God and each other
A generous dash of cooperation
3 teaspoons of pure extract of “I am sorry”
Children (more or less, to taste)
1 cup of confidence and encouragement
1 large or several small hobbies
1 cup of blindness to each others faults
1 cup of courtesy
2 bunches of of in-laws
1 cup of contentment

Flavor with frequent portions of recreation and a dash of happy memories. Stir well and remove any specks of jealousy, temper, or criticism. Sweeten well with generous portions of love and keep warm with a steady flame of devotion. Never serve with a cold shoulder or a hot tongue.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ingredients Needed for Friendships

Shortening - Provides texture. Our friendships can add much depth and texture to our lives.

Sugar - Adds sweetness. Friendships adds such a sweet taste to our lives. If we didn't have sugar in our cookies, we'd sure miss it. The same is with our friends. We can't leave it out of our lives.

Eggs - Holds ingredients together. Friends are someone we can lean on. We are held together by them. We are stronger because of them, their prayers, and their love.

Vanilla - Adds flavor. Friends add that flavor we need. They give us that extra sensation. Without friends we become kind of bland.

Flour - Adds substance. We need the substance that a true friend can add. Friends give us many things by way of mentoring us when we don't even know it. Their input greatly impacts our lives.

Baking Soda - Leavens. Leavening agents in baking helps to lighten the dough. Friends lightens our burdens through their encouragement.

Salt - Enhances flavor. We know that friendships add flavor and just when we need it, they help improve the tastefulness and quality of our lives. Friends are the type of people that know just what we are going through and are there when we need them.

Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips - The kind of chocolate chips we normally add to our cookies is semi sweet. Our friends tell us what they really feel. They can be honest and truthful to us.

Nuts - Just a little craziness in a friend is great! Sometimes a little zaniness in our friends can be just the ingredient we need.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How will Storms Benefit Me?

I've made a friend through blogging, Sue Davidson. Though I have not met Sue personally, I feel I've known her a very long time. We have talked on the phone, emailed, etc. Sue is one of the most thought persons. She sends cards and has given me a subscription to a most wonderful magazine "Southern Lady". I must confess I met Sue initially through her husband, Terry. Sue didn't do email or Facebook. She frequented my blogs but didn't leave a comment. Once she wanted to get a message to me so she had her husband email me for her. Since she in an online communicator, too!

Mr. Davidson is the Superintendent of Comanche Public Schools in Oklahoma. When school is in session he sends a weekday inspirational email to his staff. He added me to his email list and I am most thankful. Kent and I have told Mr. Davidson he should have been a preacher. He is very inspiring and motivational. After receiving a couple of Mr. Davidson's writings I emailed him and asked permission to use his writings in blogging, teaching, etc. Today's email spoke volumes to my heart.

Recently, a windstorm came through our town. After the storm, I noticed several dead limbs in the yard. There were also a couple of really weak trees that were damaged. I noticed, however, that the older trees with deep roots were not affected by the storm. In fact, they were stronger because most of the dead limbs were no longer there. Those dead limbs were a detriment to the health of the tree and could have harbored some diseases.

So, while some trees were severely damaged, others actually benefited from the storm. What was the difference? The trees that benefited have a really deep and strong root system. I believe life is like that. If we have a strong root system, if we really know what we believe, if we’ve made it a point to make sure we’re in a constant state of improvement and growth, the storms of life may be a little painful, but we won’t suffer irreparable damage. On the contrary, we’ll actually become stronger.

“I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship.” - Louisa May Alcott

While storms certainly rage we MUST know what we believe. If we are rooted and grounded in the Word of God which is truth according to John 17:17 the storms can serve only to help us. Often dead limbs that Mr. Davidson spoke of occur in our lives, churches, etc. Those limbs are a real detriment. God has away of removing them. If we will stay rooted in truth we may feel the winds blow but we will only be made stronger by the wind.

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Davidson for being valuable friends. I am certain Comanche District faculty, staff, and students are better because of your dedication and passion to enriching their lives.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Special Day

Today is a very special day. Today is the anniversary date of a wonderful miracle God performed in our lives. Today marks the arrival of our son, Raymond “Trent” Smith. Having utilized various forms of fertility attempts including surgery and drugs to find none successful giving birth to a bouncing 7 lb 15.5 oz boy was declared a definite medical miracle.

Kent and I have endeavored to delight ourselves in the Lord. He gave us the desires of our heart. We wanted two or three children and at least one boy and one girl. God fearfully and wonderfully made each of them. Redonia came to us by means of adoption and Trent by birth. However, each birthed in love. It is impossible to separate one from the other even when discussing one.

Trent has always been a very strong child. We knew from very early the call of God was upon him. Trent began sitting on the front pew alone at age 3. He worshipped God and listened to the Word.. He received the Holy Ghost at the age of 5 at Texas District Crusader’s Camp. At age 7 he told us he felt the call to preach. We were sitting in the car at the intersection of Hwy 105 and Interstate 45. I WILL never forget this moment. As Trent talked about the call his little voice trembled. He said God called him to be a pastor. Writing about it today brings tears to my eyes.

For fear of misunderstanding let me quickly say he was not a perfect child. We had lots of opportunities for attitude adjustments. Trent was a strong leader and many times this created challenges. Kent and I worked daily to channel his leadership. Trent won the “Leadership Award” voted on by his teachers each year from 7th grade through 12th grade. Of course he won many other awards, too.

Today Trent is a leader in the church we pastor. He is involved in most every aspect of the church. He passionately leads the music department to be more than skilled talent but insists on powerful anointing. He is a dynamic worship leader. He is an awesome drummer and on rare occassion slips into the drum cage during a service. He is our Youth Pastor. Last Wednesday he preached to 35 students during their weekly service. Of course he oversees all Friday night youth activities, too. He teaches Sunday school to an energetic group of 6th - 8th grade predominately outreach students. He teaches a few secondary grade level classes at Conroe Christian School. He loves to dream and plan for the future of CUPC.

Let me simply say Trent is a wonderful person. He enjoys music and sports. He is lots of fun and enjoys spending time with his friends and family. The love of his life is Calah. They have been happily married for 15 months.

Trent if you happen by the blog today, I love you more than you will ever know. Keep your passion for God. He will give you the desires of your heart. I hope today is one of your happiest birthdays. You will always remain my beautiful baby boy!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Birthday, MOM!!!

Today is a very special day. It is Mom's 64th birthday. I'm blessed to have a wonderful Mother. However, I think the grandchildren have taken the special places in her heart. She loves being Grammy.

Mother loves to cook and spend time with her family. She also enjoys resale and antique shopping. Well, she likes bargain shopping in general. I think she enjoys traveling to see friends and family most of all. Quickly she will tell you that she has worked all of her life to be able to travel. However, my siblings and I tease she makes poor Popsie work so she can travel back and forth to Alabama and on any trip that she, a cousin, or friend can plan.

Mother is faithful to God and church. Well, she isn't always faithful to church because she travels so much. We laugh because often she comes back from a trip and fusses because someone is missing. We have to remind her that person has been here the last month it's just she's been gone. Mom isn't a preacher but trust me she preaches to some of us often. Scott, Redonia and I catch it. I don't think the others get preached to....she's not brave enough to get them! lol

Mom has always been there for each of us children. My Dad passed away when Mom was only 35. Mom was left with 4 children. She did a fantastic job of finishing what she and dad begun together.

Tonight we are honoring Mom with coffee and cake at my home. Of course she protested the party in the beginning. We all know she will love it...Mom is a sweetaholic (that's where I got it from) .

Mom, I LOVE you very much!!!!! Happy Birthday....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice

During my tenure of blogging as well as reading blogs of friends, family, acquaintances, and even those I don't know I have stumbled upon something. More recently I have become a member of the Facebook society. This social network has even stronger validated my observation. Quite honestly these observations have caused me to create certain tests. After gathering the data from my analysis I set out to understand why these tests yielded such alarming results.

Confused already? Well, I wish I were confused, however, after research I found I did not gather results any differently than researchers have already gathered. I certainly plan to use these findings to help my family, church family, and myself. Am I offended by the results? Absolutely not. Rather these findings have caused much introspective evaluation. Possibly I may have shifted to the far right in trying to improve upon myself.

I have questioned why did this shine so brightly as a lighthouse in the night to me. After studying, praying, and thinking I believe God led me to the answer. In January Kent and I were privileged to attend a conference. During this conference we felt God spoke to us about our selves and the ministry of CUPC. We felt He was leading us to a new dimension of personal growth as well as harvest in our city. One word kept ringing loudly in our ears, "CARE". For several weeks now I have felt God speaking to me through my evaluations. This morning early however I felt God led me to my answer.

Kent has led CUPC in being a great giving church. CARE has caused Kent to encourage our church to not only give of their finances but give of themselves. We have prayed that God would lead and guide us. Only today did I realize that my observations were most probably led by God. In devotional time I read that feeling happy for others is a sign of being a great giver. While CARE has often been associated with helping with newcomers and those in need a new level of CARE has been revealed to me. CARE is also through the avenue of rejoicing in others accomplishments.

Again, my husband is INCREDIBLE in this area. For several years now he regularly announces to our church accomplishments both large and small of church members. He announces job promotions, educational accomplishments, new homes, etc. In retrospect this morning I realize without his association to these announcements to CARE God was helping our church learn to CARE in the area that is the MOST challenging.

Today, if someone posts a wonderful accomplishment or exciting news on Facebook or a blog the comments are less than those posted of a slightly more negative or needy nature. Additionally, some give compliments to those who may be struggling or not enjoying success at the moment. However, the same statement can be made by someone not struggling and positive comments are fewer. However, I pray to always remember the success of others is not at my expense. It does not take away anything from my life rather my rejoicing will add to my life. Rejoicing in other's victory is truly an act of giving.

According to scripture we are admonished to not only share in the mourning of others but REJOICE in the victory of others. Romans 12: 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

I am more determined than ever to CARE to the fullest. We have encouraged CARE to be outreaching and inreaching meaning outside the walls of our church as well as to our church family. Hopefully, the Lord's pulling at my spirit of rejoicing as well as mourning or praying with those in need can help move others around me into a deeper dimension of love and CARE.