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Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Art and Heart of Hospitality

We have no idea how wealthy we are just to have a roof over our heads. I take so much for granted. This struck home so profoundly to me today.

And it also struck me that our homes must be shared at all times, even (or maybe especially) when they look lived in. This is how these thoughts came to me:

My neighbor had texted me to ask for ice. When she came to my door, I gladly handed the frozen cubes to her. She then told me that she needed to drive her truck to the store just down the street so she could use the restroom there.

I know you think that you read that last sentence wrong, but you didn’t. You see, this neighbor and her husband, though they live across the street from us, do not live in a house.
Instead, these friends live in their tarped, broken-down truck. It runs, but barely. They have been our neighbors for three years, parked on the curb across the street from our house (though we’ve only gotten to know them better in the past two years or so).

My husband and I love these dear people. They are good friends and good neighbors. They are part of the “homeless” population by today’s standards though they themselves consider their truck to be home. But they do long to have a real roof over their heads as soon as possible.

But back to the story. Knowing that Estelle (not her real name), needed to leave quickly to get to the store to relieve herself, I promptly invited her in to use our restroom. She was so grateful.

As we entered the front door of my house, I apologized that the house was a little messy. And this was Estelle's response, “Please don’t worry about how your house looks. I would give anything to be able to say that.”

Did you get that? Estelle was saying that she would give anything to be able to make such an apology - to have a house that was a little messy to invite guests into, apologizing as I was. I can’t tell you how her response has sobered me!
The Lord has been impressing this message on me heavily for well over a year now. So what Estelle said has been that same message personified by the Holy Spirit through my neighbor. I must not ignore this!

My home (dare I say “our homes” since we are commanded to be hospitable many times in the Bible) must be open to others. We are even commanded to be hospitable to strangers.

Our homes are not museums where a janitor is constantly cleaning to make sure that the antiquities there remain dust-free so they can be admired by the visitors. A museum is a place where non-living things - even dead things - reside and people stare at them, awestruck, in order to connect with the past. Those who visit, walk through the museum till they reach the exit, never having rested all the while because museums are not made for resting.

Instead, my home should be a place where living beings reside, a place that is not constantly being cleaned but rather where people are productive and fruitful and also where they can rest from the living that happens there. Our homes exist for those who are living, not for the dead and/or inanimate.

Our homes should be fruitful and restful, and not just for us. They should be open for others to come in, sit down and find rest from their weariness (even if that means finding rest in the most humble room in our home - our bathroom). 

Our homes should also be a place where others can partake of the home-based fruits of our labors. Perhaps this would be lived out by providing a meal. And that does not have to be hard. It could be a meal of leftover soup from the day before (don't we say that the soup is always better the next day anyway?). Or that shared fruit could be a simple cup of coffee and an encouraging truth, ie., a spiritual fruit, that the Lord impressed upon you earlier in the day as you communed with Him through His written word. 
But back to the museum analogy, do I mean to imply that it’s wrong to clean my home? Of course not! It would be wrong for me to let my house go. What is wrong, however, is to operate under the misconception that my house must be “museum-clean” in order to have “guests” in. It’s wrong to think that my home must be picture-perfect for those who enter so that they can gaze in awe at the well-dusted, cared for and cherished furnishings (exhibits?) therein

The account of Zaccheus in the gospel of Luke helps me think deeper about how available my home is and, more to the point how available I am personally to serve others. This short little man, with a name that was bigger than he was, climbed up into a tree so that he could see Jesus above the crowds that obscured Him as He passed by.

We read in Luke 19:5, "When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, 'Zaccheus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.'"

Oh my! In reading this, I can't help but wonder what Zaccheus’ house looked like when Jesus invited Himself over to stay thereMy knee-jerk reaction would have been to panic, race home and try to get things in order. But what does the little tax collector do? Luke tells us, “So Zaccheus came down at once and welcomed Jesus gladly.” (Luke 19:6)

"So Zaccheus CAME DOWN..."! I would have been tempted to climb higher to get out of sight. But Zaccheus came down. In fact, the text continues to tell us, "So Zaccheus came down AT ONCE..."! He hurried down that tree. But that's not all, "So Zaccheus came down at once and WELCOMED JESUS..."! He didn't stress that Jesus was coming to stay at his home. It was quite the opposite. He welcomed Jesus and it wasn't just any halfhearted welcome. Not at all! Read his entire response to Jesus: "So Zaccheus came down at once and welcomed Jesus GLADLY"! Zaccheus was thrilled that Jesus had invited Himself to his house. Knowing that your house was a little messy, would you have responded so enthusiastically? Would I have?

At this point, I am thoroughly in awe of the dramatic, comprehensive and instantaneous heart change that the Spirit of God makes within this one who has been so enamored with and enslaved by money. Neither the Lord nor his fellow man was on Zaccheus’ radar until Jesus transformed him. Now he was all about Jesus instead, with his enthusiastic, joyful welcome to the Savior.
Should not this be my response, your response as well? If we are each a child of God, has He not transformed our hearts also? And when we welcome weary ones into our home, do we not likewise welcome the Lord Jesus in? 

At this point, there are so many challenging thoughts swirling through my mind. There is so much to explore and my heart needs a constant transforming tuneup. I want to explore this further so that I do not forget and so that I do practice the art and heart of hospitality in my place of fruitfulness and rest - in my home. 

In the next few weeks (God willing), I will be posting more about hospitality as it is practiced and commanded in the Bible. But for now, I have been so blessed to have shared with my neighbor the smallest, most humble room in my home, a room where she found rest in her weariness. Thank You, dear Savior, for this unforgettable opportunity! And thank You that when Estelle came for this short visit, You came with her and spoke to my heart.

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

The Art and Heart of Hospitality

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Thankfulness - It's a Miracle!

Some thoughts from my husband, Robert, concerning the account of the ten lepers that Jesus healed in Luke 17:12-19, and encouraged by a book called The Everlasting Word by Hans Bakker (see *note below): 

"Then Jesus answered and said, 'Were not ten cleansed? But the nine - where are they?' Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?' " (Luke 17:17-18)

Ten lepers were healed but only one came back to give thanks to the Lord Jesus. Where are the nine?
Where are the nine? Oh, they are at home with their families, eating turkey and stuffing, having a wonderful time, happy that they were healed. 

But none of the nine thanked the Lord Jesus. Only one, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back glorifying God with a loud voice. Only one fell on his face at the feet of Jesus giving Him thanks. (from Luke 17:15-16)

May the lesson of the lepers be for our personal instruction; it is for our warning...It is to show us that by nature we belong to the nine and that it would be a great miracle if we would be the one who returned in thankfulness to the Lord Jesus.*

Let this day of Thanksgiving 2019, be a day spent not just expressing what we are thankful for among our loved ones, but a day in which we return to the Lord Jesus in worship for what He has done for us. And may it be that we, the ones He has healed from sin-sickness, fall at His feet, glorifying God with all our being. May we be His great miracle of thankfulness! 
*Note: These portions of this post were taken from the devotional book, The Everlasting Word by Frans Bakker, from November 24's entry.   

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

Thankfulness - It's a Miracle!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

A Beautiful Design Video Series

Matt Chandler has a YouTube series on Biblical manhood and womanhood called A Beautiful Design. There are ten videos in this series and you will find all ten posted here.

Take your time. Each sermon is a typical sermon 45+ minutes. Listen to one each day for the next ten days when you have your devotional time with the Lord. Be praying that, as a wife, you will fully cooperate with God's beautiful design for you as a woman of God.

A Beautiful Design (Part One): In the Beginning

A Beautiful Design (Part Two): In His Image

A Beautiful Design (Part Three): Man's Purpose

A Beautiful Design (Part Four): Man's Hurdles

A Beautiful Design (Part Five): Man's Redemption

A Beautiful Design (Part Six): Incomplete

A Beautiful Design (Part Seven): Woman's Purpose

A Beautiful Design (Part Eight): Woman's Hurdle

A Beautiful Design (Part Nine): Woman's Redemption

A Beautiful Design (Part Ten): Together for the Gospel

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

A Beautiful Design Video Series

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

She Does Him Good

“She does him good…all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:12

This article was written nine years ago. I don't know why it took so long to post it, but it's still great information for doing your husband good!

A Very Important Education for Women
Studies have found that married men live longer than bachelors. There are many reasons, but diet is a very significant factor. “According to a study presented at a meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society, married men eat a healthier diet than bachelors. Analyzing the eating habits of 29,728 male health professionals between the ages of 40 and 75, researchers found that married men eat more vegetables and less fried food…”

Another study showed that: ''Women traditionally take more responsibility for the home than men do, and, as a consequence, women's education might be more important for the family lifestyle - for example, in terms of food habits…(this) could have a substantial influence on the health and mortality of the partner.”

Time to Wise-up!
That “education” for me commenced about 6 years ago, after my husband and I began to experience health problems. No doctor could tell me what my problem was so I began to look into nutrition.

After discovering The Weston A. Price Foundation, which is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism, I realized that I knew very little about nutrition.

These “nutrient-dense” foods have been demonized by today’s diet gurus and also by the medical field – butter, eggs, whole raw milk, cream, saturated fats, red meat, organ meats, etc. These are foods that God created and has sanctioned in Scripture for the human diet, as 1 Timothy 4:3-5 says, “…foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good…”. If God says it’s good, who is to say otherwise? It all made sense.

As these foods were restored to our diet, and all the processed so-called “health foods” (low-fat-this, cholesterol-free-that, etc.) were eliminated, our health began to improve dramatically. Within a few months, we were discarding many prescription drugs because the health issues associated with them no longer existed (high blood pressure for instance).

Helping My Husband
As my husband’s helper, I remain committed to putting densely nourishing foods on the table. It is a very real way I can assist my husband in regard to his physical well-being so that he can continue to advance the kingdom of God, serving as God has called him.

Robert has taught the Bible for many years – in the pulpit (though he is not a pastor), at mid-week Bible study, to seminary students abroad, etc. In June he is traveling with 2 other men from our church to conduct several Pastor’s conferences in Southern Sudan. His health is crucial to these ministries. I want to do what I can to help him continue to minister God’s word for the good of His people for His glory.

As wives, we have the opportunity to help our husbands enjoy good health. Food should do what God intended – build and support a strong immune system, build and repair our bodies, satisfy our taste buds and satiate our hunger. Only real food can do that. Fake foods do just the opposite – damage and tear down our bodies and weaken our immune system. And even though those foods may taste good, they are toxic (containing chemical flavors, preservatives, pesticide residues and more) that cause bodily damage.

Real Food Really Makes a Positive Difference
A few months back Robert saw his doctor for a routine visit. His blood pressure was 123/72. The doctor said, “You are a rarity – the only man your age (63) that I’ve seen recently with such great readings without medication.” Wow! I was there and heard this. I thought to myself, “If I told the doctor that it’s all the wonderful saturated fat and cholesterol (along with all the good veggies and fruit), he’d never believe me!”

However, I must also remember that though real food definitely makes a difference for health, God is still sovereign. He can and does use illness at times for our spiritual growth and benefit. But I am still committed to doing what I can to help my husband’s health (and mine). But if God decides to use cancer for our good and His glory, I know that it would be His sovereign and gracious design for our lives and not because I was serving chemical-laden faux-foods.

Getting Back To The Past
We live in a world where we can have anything in an instant, including food. We no longer have to plan meals. Just a quick trip to the grocery store provides us with a fast-fix for dinner (breakfast or lunch). We think that getting out of the kitchen in a flash improves our lives.

But women in the past knew better. They had a wisdom about food that has long since been lost to the younger generation. Wives were always on board to support their men with hearty, healthful meals from early morning to suppertime.

The Proverbs 31 woman “…rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens.” Notice here that feeding her loved ones was such a priority for this excellent wife that she did not delegate the job to her servants. She did the cooking herself and even served her maids breakfast!

My father was more educated than most modern brides. When Mom continued to make eggs for breakfast, after cold, boxed cereal had made its way onto the grocery shelves, Dad told us (his three discontented kids) that the health of our future children depended on our eating nutritious foods in the present, especially for breakfast which he proclaimed was the most important meal of the day. Now, as I read books like Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck, I marvel at his homespun wisdom. That “wisdom of the ancients” is far superior and accurate to what we are told today by the food industry.

But What if My Husband Objects?
It is not unusual for the man of the house to offer a few objections. The best way for me to deal with this issue has been submission, prayer and a respectful appeal (in order to come to an agreeable solution if need be). Here are some typical and reasonable objections your husband might offer:

“I really don’t care to eat that stuff.”
Personally, I would love to serve seafood once a week, but Robert simply does not care for it. In fact, he loathes it. But I know that the Omega 3’s that fish provide are vital to health. What to do? After putting it before the Lord, the answer came – COD LIVER OIL. Can you believe that? My husband would rather go hungry than let one morsel of mackerel (or salmon, etc.) pass through his lips, yet he will gladly slurp down a spoonful of cod liver oil every morning. That’s because it’s flavored with real lemon and has absolutely no fish taste.

One lady I know tried numerous times in numerous ways to get her husband to eat unrefined coconut oil, but he could detect it no matter how she disguised it in his food. Finally, she relented and put her gallon of coconut oil to rest.

Subsequently, one evening after retiring for bed, her husband leaned over to kiss her goodnight and gagged as he said, “Do you mean to tell me that I cannot even give my wife a kiss goodnight without tasting that stuff?!” Since she no longer had any culinary use for the coconut oil she had begun using it as a skin moisturizer.

But that’s not the end of the story. My Bible study group met at this lady’s house weekly. One evening I provided popcorn – popped in coconut oil and slathered with good butter – as the snack. I stayed a little afterward, just long enough for her husband to waltz in and ask for something to nosh on. Not remembering the coconut oil debacle, I handed him a bag of popcorn. He gobbled it down with relish, commenting about how scrumptious it was. When I realized what he was eating, it was all I could do to keep from laughing.

“We cannot afford organic.”
This is where it really pays to know your stuff. If you have educated yourself, you can respectfully appeal to your husband. Pray first, then approach him with ideas to make whole food work within your budget. Here is a sampling of what you might present:

• Many foods are safe to eat that have been grown conventionally. Thick-skinned produce such as citrus fruits, melons, avocados, bananas and many, many more.
• Growing food organically helps to stretch the food dollar also.
• Serving economy meals is helpful – soups, legumes, etc. that are inexpensive to make. Of course, this requires planning.
• Money will be saved by not buying expensive convenience faux foods or eating out nearly as often. (My husband and I have lived on a very small income since eating this way and we have never had to compromise at the grocery store.)
• Making cleaning and beauty products from common household ingredients will save money that can then be directed toward the food budget.

“What about dessert?”
Your husband may feel like his sweet tooth will be starved out (actually, that’s not a bad thing). Assure him that you will be making his sweets from scratch (perhaps this is yet another way to budget for whole foods). Use healthy alternative sweeteners – palm sugar, raw honey, organic maple syrup, Rapadura, stevia. (Follow this link to understand why agave is one of the most unhealthy sweeteners.)

Personally, I have never been a baker. Instead, our sweet treats include puddings, baked apples, peaches or strawberries and cream with honey, parfaits, homemade ice cream, etc. Most of these sweets offer fewer carbs than baked goods and also some nutrition in the form of eggs, cream and milk. Still, these types of foods should be served occasionally rather than daily since they are not the most nutritious of foods. Also, try serving salty snacks as an alternative treat, such as popcorn, popped as mentioned above, peanut or almond butter on celery or salty nuts prepared for optimum nutrition.

“I don’t at all want to change the way we’re eating.”
If this is your situation and your husband will not be persuaded otherwise, if it concerns your husband’s tastes rather than the budget, there are many things that you can do to make his meals more nutritious. Here are some ideas:
• Switch from toxic fats and oils to those that are nourishing.
• Switch from processed sugar to healthy alternatives.
• Make your own salad dressings (the ones your hubby really likes) and mayonnaise.
• Buy bacon and wieners, etc. that do not contain nitrites and nitrates.
• Make hamburgers from grass-fed beef instead of conventional beef.
• Buy snacks (potato chips for instance) that are made with cold-pressed monounsaturated oils instead of polyunsaturated heat-extracted oils.

God is Honored
When it is your desire to help your husband in this fashion God is glorified and He will provide in ways that you never dreamed of. Hasn’t He commanded us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” If it is your desire to help your husband eat well, but you believe that your budget will not be adequate to buy whole foods, don’t give up before you ask your Heavenly Father to make it possible.

Some Practical Ways to Nourish Your Husband
• Make breakfast. After fasting for 10 hours or more and with the full day still ahead, breakfast is vital for energy and general health.
• “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”
• Pack a lunch if your husband eats away from home while working
• Serve the salad as a first course. If your husband leaves most of his salad because he fills up on the main course, give him his salad (alone) first with his favorite (healthy homemade) dressing.
• Provide plenty of good fat with each meal. Good fat satiates hunger better than carbs or protein. Your husband will go longer without needing snacks. Slather cooked veggies in butter (it also assists in the delivery and metabolizing of nutrients to your body).

Now go and do your husband good just like the Proverbs wife did!

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

She Does Him Good

Monday, August 5, 2019

Eight Reasons for Memorizing Scripture

In this short video clip, John Piper presents eight reasons why the Christian should memorize Scripture. Take a few minutes to let the Spirit of God challenge you in this regard.

If you need help memorizing Scripture, I highly recommend an app that is available for both Android and Apple devices called "Remember Me". It is free and though I have tried other apps for Bible memory, Remember Me is head and shoulders above them all (in my opinion.)

Photo by NilsStahl on Upsplash
You can find Remember Me at Google's "Play Store" or Apple's "App Store". Just type in the name of the app in the search bar, download and enjoy!
Meantime, here's a brief video showing some of the features of the Remember Me app:

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

Eight Reasons for Memorizing Scripture

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

God's Sovereignty and Goodness in Adversity

"It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes." (Psalm 119:71)

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

God's Sovereignty and Goodness in Adversity