Lavish Hospitality 8


As a book reviewer, I’m already receiving books on Christmas, the holidays, and Advent.  This is super helpful because it helps to turn my mind and heart to the real reason for the Christmas season before the hecticness of the holidays work to turn my heart toward other things.

My favorite Christmas album: Sojourn’s Advent Songs. 

My favorite thing to do at Christmas: be at home with just my boys and my man on Christmas day.

My first Christmas stocking: a pale pink ballerina slipper.

My favorite Christmas book: Song of the Stars

Christmas is all about the incarnation.  The incarnation was one of the first acts of Lavish Hospitality.  It is when the Creator of the world came to live in the world he made.  He gave up his wealth to become poor for us.  And in doing so, he welcomed us.

We, as believers, can be such a visible work of the gospel in people’s lives if we welcome them.  Welcome them in their brokenness, in their hurting, in their reality.  And you know what, people don’t enter our perfectness.  They enter our brokenness, our hurting, and our reality.

Quote: Found in Him by Elyse Fitzpatrick.

W&BT: Found in Him (finale)

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We are truly alive!

This is going down as a very engaging, life-changing book.  It is that good.  I’ve always loved the grace impetus that Elyse Fitzpatrick has in her writing – and this one is no different.

Here are my thoughts on the last two chapters.

One of the most hope-full sentences in the entire book is found in chapter 9 – “No matter how you’ve sinned or been sinned against – your identity is that of a beloved, pure bride.” Often in this world, we are categorized by our sin.  Think of all the “self-help programs” or even in our churches when people know you have committed a sin – that’s what our minds shift to when we see that person in the hall or in Sunday School.  Not so.  This should not be.  We should look at other Blood-bought Christians as Christ would – through His blood.

“We are truly alive.  We are free and no longer enslaved to sin or the law.” (183)  If this is true in our standing in front of a holy God – can it ever be true in the local church?  How can we love each other even though we see their sin – they see our sin – how do we display Christ to ourselves and others?

“What would your life look like if you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were loved and that there was nothing you could do to spoil that reality?”  Oh what glorious truth!  How can we again live this out in the local church – in our small groups, in our play dates with other mommies, or in our ministry teams?

“I am free to serve my neighbor because I don’t need to demand to be loved – I have already been fully loved in Christ.  I am free to serve my neighbor because I don’t need to be respected – Jesus knows exactly who I am.” – How much of our lives are lived in front of others, so others will see us, so that we can look good and climb ladders or get pats on the backs?  This is not how the Christian life should be lived.  We are who we are in Christ.  Let us live there – in that reality – not keeping score or a list of things we have done.  Good book on this topic: When People are Big and God is Small – by Ed Welch.

“Idolatry is crushed beneath true worship.”  Oh how true.  If we are focused on the gospel, sin will grow so faint (idolatry is sin).

W&BT Found In Him: Chapter 6

Jesus Reigns

The beauty and glory of the Resurrection and how it impacts every moment of every day we live.  I know, its not even Valentine’s Day and I’m already talking about Easter: but as I sit and watch my littler boy squirm as he tries to take a nap, basking in the warmth of the sun in our master bedroom, I know that the only reason that he is alive and breathing and cooing and sucking on his hand is because of the Resurrection.  All living things found their start in Christ (Colossians 1, John 1)

Love Elyse’s mention of 1 Corinthians 15.  Paul reminds his reads of the GOSPEL.  We stand in the GOSPEL.  And we are growing in Christ-likeness because of the power of the GOSPEL.  All of life, from beginning to end, is about the GOSPEL!

Have you ever thought what it would have been like for Mary to hear her name from the very one who loved her, changed her life – but then had died such a horrific death?  Can you imagine her heart as it started to beat faster and she turned to see the Master?  Oh that we might know the dearness and the nearness of the One who has called us by name out of darkness into HIS marvelous light!

There is a whole blog post coming on our “believing God” but I wonder if the disciples fully believed Jesus?  Often He had told them of his resurrection, still they doubted up until the time they saw Him that Easter Sunday.  Do our actions do the same?  We say believe God – but we worry, we are anxious, we don’t like correction, we mourn as those who have no hope.  I know we live on this side of the empty grave – but still I wonder how our actions speak of our doubt – not our faith – in God and in His Word.

I had opportunity to share this one thought with a friend this week: we worry and become anxious over practicalities.  We don’t actually believe God at his word that our worry can do nothing for the event – and our worry actually tells of our disbelief – not out belief.  Mary and Martha – we see this.  This speaks to me often.  I worry about getting some place on time.  If we are later or I don’t have everything in control – this is when my non-gentle and quiet spirit appears.  And in reality it is always there – and I long for the Lord to re-create this part of my heart.

Do we let Jesus reign on our every day life – not just on Resurrection Sunday?  How have you seen God reign in your every day?


W&BT: Found in Him Chapter 5

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Humble Obedience

I love small, simple reminders and this week I have definitely found them in Chapter 5 of Found in Him.  Life is at times completely overwhelming.  I don’t mean the big picture life – I mean the every day, every moment, will my husband ever get home, when will nap time come, can I please go on a walk and not freeze life.  Do  you know the one I’m talking about?

Then I read this.  Calm enters.  Waters still.  Life becomes unhazy (though I might still need a nap).

The reminder that Christ died for me.  That’s all.

The Gospel is not about self.  Much of this world is – but the gospel isn’t.  If you start with self – you’ve started in the wrong place.  Start with God.  That’s the best place to start.  If you need a Savior (which all of us do) – you can’t start with yourself.  That road will lead you wrong every time you go down it.  “Take off all your self-protection, self-righteousness, hollow pride, excuse making, self-pity, and crass unbelief.  This gospel, the true gospel, is not about you. (pg 96)

Another book I’ve been reading is the Maximize Your Life 31-day Devotional (online) – by Brian Houston (Hillsong pastor).  I’m loving it so far.  There was a sweet little time that these two books married for me this week:

“Rise my friends.  Rise from your sleepy dreams of grandeur and your troubled nightmares of loss.  Rise from your unbelief and from your guilty knowledge of your continual failure.  Rise out of your doomed lineage and exiled wandering and stand with me.  I am the new man.  I have won.  I will stand.” (pg 100)

One way we can learn to be like Christ is walking in humble obedience.  Oh, this is very difficult.  I want to cry and complain, or sit on my bed all day, or not pick up the toys.  But, that is not like Christ.  And I need the reminder.

W&BT Found in Him: Chapter 4

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God loves sinners

When you see the word “sinner” do you readily consider yourself among those who sin? Do you consider yourself a sinner? Not “I’m a sinner and Christ died for me – a theological statement”. But, “I’m a sinner and Christ died for me – position of the heart and truth statement”.

When I first read the title to this week’s chapter I immediately thought “God does love sinners.” Then I thought “No, wait…he loves me. I’m a sinner too.” This is a very hard theological truth to come to. To realize that sin dwells within us – me. You. Not just in people who cut us off in traffic or get our order wrong in the drive-thru line or those really bad sinners who are on those “said” reality shows that we would never consider watching (hear tone of voice here). No, we have to come to know that we are sinners, too. And Christ died for us and is in the work of daily sanctifying us!

And what is our response when we are sinned against? Whether it is our husbands, children, strangers, friends? Personally for me, irritability. I get irritated at them. I don’t think “Lord, work in me as I am in relationship with them. Shape all of us according to the image of Christ and your holiness.” No, I usually sin in response.

“Love sinners? Me? Hardly. Sometimes I don’t even like them, but He never let the coldness or puniness of my heart stop Him from loving me.” (pg 78)

One of my favorite stories from the Bible is that of King David and Mephibosheth. Mephiba-who? 2 Samuel 9. Go read it. It will rock your world in terms of grace. We, just like Moses and Elijah (two Biblical rock stars) are “redeemed sinners welcomed into the fellowship of the Son.” (pg 81)

Having lunch with a friend today we were talking about glory seeking. So easy to do in this world of social media, blogging, etc. But, isn’t this the exact opposite of what Christ did while he was here on earth? And on his second return trip to earth (in the future) he won’t need to promote because the whole earth will be full of his eternal glory (Philippians 2).

Do we really think about the “condescension of our Christ” (pg 87)? That he stooped low, that he was a carpenter, that he served lost people, that he ate dinner with sinners (some of those people that he ate with surely wouldn’t be allowed in our churches today, right)? Sinners wouldn’t look like us, would they? What if Jesus had had dinners with impatient mothers, stubborn wives, over-the-speed-limit drivers, time wasters, gluttonous people? Then could you relate? I could definitely relate more. I’m not a tax-collector. But, I’m all of the above. And Jesus provided a way for me to have a banquet meal with him. For this, I’m grateful.
Jesus was everything we didn’t know we needed. I love this thought that I wrote in margin. He is good, isn’t he!

W&BT: Found in Him Week 2

God had to breathe

Since being married, I’ve learned to love reading aloud. Often, the Mister and I will read a book as we travel. He knows that I get more out of it (reading comprehension) if I read – and most of the time he is doing the driving as I read.

Here are my thoughts (and some of the Mister’s) on this week’s readings (chapter 2) in Found in Him:

1. Love it when you read books and they make you think of other books you need to read. “In His humiliation, God had to breathe, eat, drink, and sleep. When cut her blod. He longed for companionship and truly suffered when his friends deserted him.” Jesus was willing to come be in relationship with us – knowing full well that his friends would hurt him. Our response often to relationships is that if they hurt us – get out. This is very hard for me. Friendships are very special to me, and I take them very seriously – so when hurt comes along, which if often does, I am weary of the journey continuing. Thankful for Jesus’ example. Oh, and the book I need to read…Relationships: A Mess Worth Making.

2. What is your favorite Christmas song? One of mine is Passover Us by Andrew Peterson. It is a masterful weaving of the passage of the Israelites and a glimpse into the beautiful gospel of Jesus. How does your favorite jingles help you experience the Incarnation?

3. We talked in the car on the Sunday on the way to church about Psalm 1. There are many Psalms, including this one, that compare and contrast the life of the blessed vs the life of the wicked. One of the missing of the life of the wicked is the smile of God. Jesus dwelled under the smile of God. “He knew what it was to live with the light of God’s countenance upon him. He grew to sense God’s smile upon his life. He did know that pleasing The Lord was the most important activity he could pursue.” What do you pursue with that kind of determination? What needs to give in your life so you can know and live in the smile of God. And the good news – if you are in Christ – God does smile on you!

4. “Will you rejoice exceedingly with great joy and fall down before the child along with the magi?” My Mister is a worship pastor, so often we have conversations about corporate worship. And something I have learned is that every church has its corporate worship style. The only thing I have total control over is my own personal worship and how that will affect me in corporate worship. So, how do I answer the above question that Elyse asked? How would you answer it?

What did you learn from this week’s reading? I’m enjoying this book – and I hope you are too.

On the Shelf: Found in Him (Fitzpatrick/Crossway)

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Found in Him

Now what?  Christmas is over.  New Years is passed.  The Christmas CDs that we played throughout the month of December are back in their cases.  So what do we do this Jesus – who came down from heaven in the form of a baby?  What do we do with the doctrine of the Incarnation?

Well, I’m so glad you asked.  My favorite author, Elyse Fitzpatrick, explores this very well in her new book Found in Him which came out in October.  This is a heavier book (more theology study) then some of her other ones, but well worth the extra effort.  She takes the meaning and truth of the incarnation and tells us how we need to know and love that doctrine so we can rest in Christ – because of what He has done on the cross.

Over the next almost 3 months, I’ll be doing a book study here on the blog with several ladies.  Please join us.  I’ll be posting on each chapter every Monday – starting with the Intro/Chapter 1 on Monday, January 6.

Hello December 7: Loved and Welcomed

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Elyse Fitzpatrick has a new book entitled Found in Him. I love the introduction where she talks about feelings of isolation and aloneness and self-condemnation. No matter how surrounded we are by friends and family, especially at the holiday, I think most of us feel that way at some point. Know that no matter how much you make a mess of things or feel like you aren’t loved, or no matter how you spend the holidays, God loves and welcomes you through Jesus.
Loved and Welcomed