Tag: welcome (page 1 of 2)

How to Build a Sanctuary

“Any building is a temple if you make it so.” Phil Knight

I read this quote and it brought to mind this old post which was a good reminder for me, so I hope you don’t mind a redo!

People say I have the gift of hospitality, but I once put a cup of salt, instead of teaspoon of salt, into a batch of lasagna so clearly it can’t be about gourmet cooking.  I also once totally forgot that we had invited six people for dinner, so hospitality apparently doesn’t hinge on attention to details.  Instead, I would agree with someone I heard recently who said, “Hospitality is inviting heaven into the house”.

Actually I’d expand that to say, “Hospitality is inviting heaven into the house…the bus, the office…the hair salon…the airplane…the parking lot.”  And I know many people who do that much better than I do.

For a season, some mentors of ours, Gordon and Gail MacDonald were pastoring in New York City.  They befriended some city bus drivers who were Christ-followers, but felt they didn’t have an environment for ministry.  Gordon pushed back and suggested:

“Why don’t you start up your buses each morning and, while the engine is warming, walk down the aisle of the bus and shout, ‘In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, I declare this bus to be a sanctuary where passengers will experience something of the love of Christ through me.’ You can be a pastor in your own sanctuary.”

The bus drivers took his suggestion and experienced a transformation of perspective on their everyday life.  Suddenly their buses were a safe place where they were aware God was present and welcoming.

For my friend Anne a 747 is her sanctuary.  I can’t imagine anyone more full of the love of Jesus caring for weary travelers with joy and patience on the long flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.  Her flights are places where God is present and welcoming. Recently Anne switched her schedule to work this flight when I and my colleague were on our way home.  She treated us like royalty, but she does that with everyone she meets! Can you even??

Another friend moved to a new home last year and before painting over the walls of her living room, this is what she wrote.

IMG_4805She and her husband were declaring their house a sanctuary.

Another friend, Daoud Nassar, has a farm outside Bethlehem that is surrounded by Israeli settlements.  The government has blocked the road to his farm with boulders so you have to walk in.  They have restricted him from building anything above ground, so he uses caves.  They have repeatedly bulldozed the olive trees he grows.  But his farm, called Tent of Nations, is a sanctuary.  This is the sign that greets everyone.

IMG_3664

Welcome, Jesus.  May each place we set our feet today be a sanctuary, a piece of heaven on earth.

Where is your sanctuary today?  Might you take a minute to dedicate your space to the work of God?

 

Summer Soul Food

Hey Friends,

I know I’ve been MIA on the blog recently, but I’m guessing you’re out seizing summer joy and don’t mind a little less in your “in box”! As a result, this is a looooong post!

I’ve been prioritizing speaking, prepping a new set of devo cards, and another writing project I only recently have had the courage to call a “manuscript”. Yikes it’s scary to say that, and yet I also feel total peace regarding what happens with it. If God can use it “out there” I trust it will get published. If He has other plans I’m fine with that. I’m thankful for friends and mentors who have been coaching me along in this process!

 

Speaking of needing each other… John and I always do a lot of hosting in the summertime because our back yard provides a great space for gathering folks. We have had a big tent I told you about before, but it’s so old it started to leak when there was rain, and since rain was predicted last week when we were hosting 32, we bought another tent. Here was the problem. It was a LOT more complicated to set up than our previous one (I am so thankful for a husband with infinite patience!).

 

It was super hot with one million percent humidity as we struggled to get it set up. At one point I asked John what time it was, and he said, “No worries, they’re not coming tip 6:30.” Imagine the look on our faces when we had just finished the job and were sweating like pigs and our guests walked around the corner of our house at 6:00!

Anyway, one of the benefits of hosting a lot of potlucks is GOOD RECIPES! My friend Michelle brought this amazing salad and was gracious enough to give me the recipe, so I thought I’d pass it along. It is delightfully different!

Wheat Berry and Fruit Salad

1 Cup wheat berries

Dressing:

3 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs water

1 ½ Tbs cider vinegar

2 tsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp each salt & pepper

¼ Cup dried cranberries (craisins)

1 large apple cut bite size

1 Cup seedless grapes halved

½ Cup diced cheddar

  1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan.

Add wheat berries; reduce heat, cover and cook for

45-55 minutes until tender. Drain well.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk oil, water, vinegar, mustard, salt

& pepper. Add dried cranberries and warm wheat berries.

Toss to coat. Let stand 10 minutes, tossing occasionally,

for flavors to absorb and wheat berries to cool. (If you want

to make ahead and serve cold, cover and refrigerate up to

1 day).

3. Add remaining ingredients to bowl; toss to mix and coat.

Serves 4   (Can be served on a bed of lettuce.)

I preached at CPC on Jesus and the feeding of the 5,000 a couple weeks ago, and I wish I had thought to use this video! With Jesus everybody’s welcome, nobody’s perfect, and anything can happen!

 

I’ve been reading a lot this summer, but I really hate to review books because I think personal taste, values, your current season of life, and circumstances can skew how you feel about a book.

However, my talented friend Steve Wiens has a new book coming out August 22nd called “Whole”.  

The description of this new book is: “For Christians who lament the brokenness in themselves, their neighbors, and the world around them, Whole offers a rallying cry to pursue wholeness together.”

I think Steve’s strength is in the questions he asks – the 5 questions of restoration he addresses in the first half of the book, and the discussion questions at the end of each chapter make this a read that would be good for group discussion.  Steve models a commitment to self-reflection and vulnerable sharing throughout which will encourage others in your small group.

If you like considering the different meanings behind the original Hebrew text, looking for new connections, you will like this book.  If you like contemporary retelling of ancient stories that highlight the movement from brokenness to wholeness, you will like this book.

If you are into spy novels, I recommend this complicated, intriguing book, ” I am Pilgrim: A Thriller”. It’s excellent, but be forewarned…there is some graphic violence and the pieces don’t start to come together til about page 245. I can’t imagine the time that went into researching this book!

One last thing…I’ve been doing more on Instagram, and recently posted this quote. I have several friends who are in very, very hard places where it seems their thoughts and prayers kept spinning in a circle of despair. Can anyone else relate?

I’ll close with part of a blessing from Suzie Larson:

May you be honest with God about the hurts in your heart. May you discern the difference between grief and self-pity. May you be okay with not always being okay. God will one day wipe away every tear from your eyes, but until then, He wants to help you walk this journey with peace in your heart and assurance in your soul. He is with you.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Neighboring Challenge, Day 5 – Accept & Pray

Within four houses of me any direction there live Jews, Muslims, agnostics, and Christians, Republicans, Democrats, single, divorced, young and old. Our neighborhood can be a cafeteria tray with square compartments that separate us, or we can go for “stone soup” where a mixture of unlikely ingredients makes for a delightful surprise.

In the first century there were many factions too. Jew, Gentile, Pharisee, Sadducee, Samaritan, Soldiers… We see an example of how God brings some of them together in Acts 10.

 

In Ceasarea there is a guy named Cornelius (a Gentile) who God speaks to.

Forty miles away in Joppa there is a guy named Peter (a Jew) who God speaks to.

God speaks to them both, but they would not usually associate with each other.

The Lord tells Cornelius to go get Peter.

The Lord tells Peter to go to Cornelius.

But first God spreads out a banquet before Peter and reassures him,  “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

In other words, Jesus death on the cross was for everyone, not just the Jews who followed a heck of a lot of rules the Gentiles didn’t (Like not eating  pork).

When Peter gets to Ceasarea Cornelius has gathered all his relatives and close friends.

Peter begins to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.  You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” (Acts 10:34-36)

What does this say to us about our neighbors?

Neighboring challenge:

You may have Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics and more in your neighborhood. Take a minute and close your eyes. Picture God looking at each of them with great love.

Take a prayer walk around your neighborhood as a family. (Maybe after dinner).

  • Pray with thanksgiving.
  • Pray for neighbors of different faiths from yours.
  • Pray for the neighbors with needs you know.
  • Pray for the neighbors you don’t know.
  • Pray that your neighbors would see Jesus in you.

Right now we’re in the month of Ramadan. If you’d like to learn how to support your Muslim neighbors and pray for them, here are a couple of resources:

Searching for a Father: A Ramadan Prayer Guide

3 Ways to Support Your Muslim Neighbors

 

Love Leaves a Light On

Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is to leave a light on.

My little brother David, and my sister-in-law live in the small town where I grew up.  Their home is a turn-of-the-century house with a wonderful front porch – swing and all.

IMG_0675

My brother loved investing in others, especially teens. During her high school years, David built a relationship with Sada.

Sada was not going through a typical teen rebellion. A brilliant, reflective soul, she was struggling with deep issues of justice, truth, and grace. Sada was an extraordinary girl with an equally exceptional brain and giant heart. She needed a safe place to examine issues of her heart and soul, darkness and light.

Continue reading

Refugees and Red Cups

Thanksgiving is a wrap, and it has finally snowed in Minnesota. It is the first Sunday in Advent. As I look out on the lake starting to slowly freeze, I write “Buy Christmas Tree” on my to-do list, but my mind is still reflecting on Thursday.

This was a “different” Thanksgiving for us. We were taken in as “refugees”, fleeing from a year of hard memories, looking for a different home in which to celebrate the holiday.

I looked down the long, long table filled with laughter and flickering candlelight, conversations amongst our “other family” and some people I’d never met before and I was so thankful.

IMG_2380

It was not the table of my hometown, not my immediate family, no brother David at the head, but still…we felt at home.

Because we were in a place of love and welcome and “There you are!”

There were hugs, and favorite dishes, “Tell me about…” and “I’m so sorry…”

You and I and those in refugee camps and on streets everywhere all long to be invited; to have a place at the table, to feel welcomed and loved and known. Continue reading

Soul Food for Halloween

Halloween is one of my husband’s favorite days of the year.  I know, odd for a pastor, right?

The pc answer should be Easter,right?  And yes, it’s the most important, but honestly, I think he likes Halloween because it brings him so much joy to welcome kids at our door with enthusiasm, handing out candy and oohing and ahhing over every single costume like they were the one and only.

He looks forward all year to parking his chair by the front door and waiting for kids to come.  Even though he’s terrible at figuring out what the costumes are, he greets each kid as if they were THE most amazing, creative, delightful goblin of the night.

IMG_2808

Last night he took it to a new level.  He carried his rocking chair outside and our firepit along with a jack-o-lantern and a big basket of candy.  As I was watching him it struck me how much his posture towards the kids is like God’s towards us, only we usually miss it. Kind of like the dad waiting and watching for the prodigal son to come home. Continue reading

To All Those Who Didn’t Show

I wrote yesterday about the waiting on the Fool’s Bench at Easter.

As it turned out, I didn’t sit.  I stood near the door to church in the Great Room, craning my neck, looking over the shoulder of anyone I was talking to, hoping to see the shaved bald head of my next-door-neighbor and his blond wife walk in.

I prayed and prayed.  I saved seats at two (count ’em, two!) services, which did NOT endear me to those who did come and were tackling others for a spot, practically paying hard cash money so they could sit inside the sanctuary instead of in the overflow rooms.

It didn’t happen.  Yes, the other friend did show at an earlier service and I pray that she felt totally hogswaggled by the enormity of God’s love for her, but it’s hard not to focus on the ones who didn’t come.  photo-109

I’ve been thinking about them…All the friends and neighbors and co-workers and prodigal family members you invited to church this Sunday.  Or last.  Or any one of a bazillion times. Continue reading

What I’ve Learned About God at Halloween

This is a re-post from two years ago.  I hope it’s an encouraging reminder this Halloween.


I think that Halloween is my husband’s favorite day of the year.  Odd, I know for a pastor.  The pc answer should be Easter,right?  But honestly, I think he likes Halloween best because there’s not much that brings him as much joy as handing out candy and oohing and ahhing over every single kid’s costume.  He looks forward all year to parking his chair by the front door and waiting for kids to come.  Even though he’s terrible at figuring out what the costumes are, he greets each kid as if they were THE most amazing, creative, delightful goblin of the night.

Continue reading

5 Things I’m Learning Around my Scarred Table

Tuesday we had a large group of people over for a BBQ in our backyard.  It was truly the perfect Minnesota summer evening.  Dry, 78 degrees, miraculously mosquito-free.  (for a minute I looked around thinking Jesus must be coming back).

IMG_4440 IMG_4442

It was a delightful evening of good conversation and laughter, but it’s not like everything was perfect.  John burned most of the brats and 7 (yes 7!) people cancelled within an hour and a half of our start time.

It’s not like everything is always coordinated.  I’ve been known to use a hodgepodge of leftover holiday paper napkins.  Other times we’ve planned for outside but at the last minute rain has blown in or it’s been so hot and muggy we’ve had to frantically un-set and re-set for Plan B, everyone preferring to crowd in our small, but dryer, cooler house.  And I don’t always  usually handle this well.  Often I’m just a stressed out hot mess about change and flexibility.

Continue reading

Who’s in, Who’s out, and the Last 10%, part one

Awhile ago I was sitting around a table with a bunch of people with job titles, and advanced degrees, accomplishments out the wazoo, and years of valuable experience.  And I felt like the outsider.  Not a valid contributor to the discussion.  A toddler sitting at the grown-up’s table.  Not a big deal.  It happens.  A good exercise in humility.  But it made me think…

I’m not a Bachelor/Bachelorette addict, but I have watched enough with my daughter, Maggie.  I know when the girl doesn’t get the rose and is in the back seat of the limo crying or angry, it’s not about losing the true love of her life.  It’s about not getting chosen.  Feeling “not good enough.”  Suddenly on the outside when others are still in.

Unknown-1

Isn’t this why reality t.v. is so popular?  We are a culture of insiders and outsiders.

We love judging.

Continue reading

Older posts

© 2017 Laura Crosby

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑