Monday, November 22, 2010

Giving Thanks

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with Psalms. - Ps 95:2

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good.- Ps 100:4-5a

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Phil 4:6

We wish you and yours a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving Week!!!
~ The Offering Hospitality Staff

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Easy Hospitality :: Movie Nights

by Carrie

This holiday season my husband and I were interested in finding a few fun ways to host friends during this rather busy time of year. We know that there are so many activities available and parties to attend, but we wanted to make sure we provided an option for ourselves and for our friends as to how we might keep touch during this upcoming Christmas season.

Coupled with the fact that we are now expecting a new family member this spring (yup, I'm following the way of half of the Offering Hospitality staff and am pregnant!) we also knew that we wanted to come up with something a bit more low key that wouldn't demand so much of our energy.

In the end, we decided to host a series of Holiday Movie Nights. Here's what we did:

  • We selected an assortment of dates for our movie nights;
  • We choose family friendly films that families wouldn't worry about coming over to our house to view together;
  • We sent out an e-mail inviting our friends to join us for any or all of the selected dates;
  • We said that snacks would be provided; and
  • We set the time frame for evenings when we knew we wouldn't be as busy the next day so that we could rest and recover.

At the time of this posting, our movie nights are underway and it's been a great experience. For one, we had one family that we weren't familiar with so we invited them to join us for dinner before hand and had a fabulous time getting to know them! The next one promises to include several families which will provide some variety and a different sort of fun.

Think about it - a lot of people watch the same Christmas classics year after year. (I know I do!) Why not watch them all together and make a little party out of it? Not very much preparation is needed and the entertainment is provided! We invite people to come over about half an hour before the movie begins so that we can chat a little and basically just work to stay in touch with others during a time when we might not otherwise make a connection.

For us, this system is working very well. It doesn't demand too much of me right now and it allows us to have our friends over. We are able to enjoy our favorite Christmas movies and it give me an excuse to bake sugary treats that I know will be consumed by others and not just myself! This year this is turning out to be a win-win situation for us. We never see the same faces, nor did we expect to. It's just something a little different we decided to try this year.

Furthermore, the response has been quite favorable - precisely because everyone is busy but taking some time out to watch your favorite Christmas movie is something most people do anyway.

I'm glad we decided to do this this year. I'm not sure if we'll make a regular habit out of it, but for this season in life, (i.e., pregnancy and planned events), taking some down time with friends was important to us and it gives us something to look forward to every few weeks.

What about you? Do you have any holiday tips or tricks as to how you are managing to keep in touch with friends during the Christmas season? I'd really love to hear them if you do! I hope you'll consider sharing with us in the comment section below or in an e-mail.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Women's Ministry in the Local Church: Chapter 9 Discussion (Scripture)

by Carrie

This is the last chapter in the book Women's Ministry in the Local Church. Next week we will wrap up our discussion with a conclusion post and after that we'll have a few new announcements to make.

In the meantime, I really hope that you have come to see a least a little value in discussing this book. I want to turn this chapter's discussion back to our main theme around these parts - hospitality.

In Chapter 9 of Women's Ministry in the Local Church, the focus again returns to scripture as the argument as to why it is important to have a women's ministry within the church. I would say that this chapter also has a heavy emphasis on the idea of discipleship, which is a subject that Stephanie discussed and highlighted last week.

Boiled down, the main idea is that in order for women to have a proper Biblical view of their position and roles within their homes and their churches (i.e., the Body of Christ) their worldview needs to be Biblically and scripturally accurate. A women's ministry needs to primarily focus on the Titus 2 model given in scripture.

"You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." Titus 2:1-5
Women need to be taught sound doctrine so that they will not be weakened by the culture or the world around them. The church leadership should be concerned about making sure the women are taught and instructed the Bible in an accurate manner. The older women should disciple the younger in both truth and practical application. In this way, the younger women are learning how to be keepers of their home, support systems to their husbands, pillars of strength to their family and to their church. In other words, life begets life and an older woman living out these principles before a younger women, and taking the time to invest in a younger women's life does so for the glory of God and the mutual benefit of believers.

Taking this to hospitality, we must learn how to practice it in a scripturally accurate manner. First, tending to our homes. As women, submitting to our authority figures (i.e., husbands and church leadership.) We should be seeking to bring life to the Body of Christ, to build it up and not tear it apart through slander, laziness or passivity. We have a unique role to play and it behooves us to apply ourselves to learning sound doctrine and living that out within the Body. And yes, one of those ways is by offering and extending hospitality to others, which is a Biblical command.

I'm going to end with a quote and exhortation from Hunt on this topic and would be curious to hear what you have to say and share from there.

"Churches are filled with women who have traded their birthright as corner pillars to engage in a prideful pursuit of knowledge. They have stopped short of true discipleship that moves from knowledge to wisdom - the application of truth into life. They have perfected some Bible study skills, but they do not know how to live as godly, chaste single women, or love their husbands, or care for the sick and oppressed, or support the male leadership of the church. They are often critical of the men in the church. They have selfish hearts rather than servant hearts. They have not been taught all that Jesus commanded in His Word about their design and calling. They need to grow up. They desperately need an apprenticeship with mature Christian women who will train them in the craft of womanhood." (page 140-141)
We can do better. We must do better if we long to be all that God designed and meant for us to be - both in the area of hospitality and in our daily spiritual walk.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thanksgiving Craft Ideas

Here are some great craft, recipe and decor ideas from around the web to get you in the Thanksgiving spirit! Enjoy!

-Parents Magazine has a great article called " Lets Give Thanks" that features an appreciation journal, thank bank as well as other kid friendly crafts.
-Family Fun Magazine has lots of kids crafts and recipes to get your little ones involved in, as well as some yummy Creative Cranberry Recipes to add to your dinner menu.
-Christian Preschool Printables has lots of Christian Thanksgiving themed crafts and coloring pages, so does
-For beautiful table settings check out Martha Stewart's ideas here.
-Country Living's former editor shares here families Thanksgiving celebrations over on their site.

Sometimes I just love looking at other's ideas to inspire me and I hope you do too.

Some of these crafts make great gifts for showing our gratitude all year long. Do you know of some great crafts out there on the web or have you blogged about something you've made? Post a link in a comment below!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Women's Ministry in the Local Church: Ch. 8 Discipleship

"Biblical discipleship is not simply imparting facts or inculcating personal habits of Bible study, prayer and evangelism, as helpful as those disciplines are.  It is transmitting a way of thinking and living that unites all the parts into the glorious whole of glorifying God.  It is passing on a legacy of biblical faith and life to the next generation." (p. 123)
I love how Hunt and Duncan define biblical discipleship in this chapter!  I am reminded of a quote from chapter 4, "How can I think biblically about womanhood when I am constantly told to pursue my own dreams, to be true to myself, and to seek my own fulfillment?" (page 59)

The answer to that young woman's question is biblical discipleship.  It's older women taking the time and energy to invest in the lives of younger women.  Yes, it requires a healthy pulpit ministry and Bible studies but it goes much further than that.  It's women sharing Bible-based life together in formal and casual ways.

Titus 2:3-5 (the text used for this chapter) gives us an outline for what this type of discipleship includes, "Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine.  They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."

I think the area of discipleship is where we most see the application of this book to hospitality. For example, if I am hosting a young woman in my home for lunch and one of my children chooses to hit his brother, my responses to the situation will "transmit a way of thinking and living" both to my children and to my guest.  It's discipleship in action.

I'm sure we can all agree that "Titus 2" discipleship is needed, but do we practice it?  What are some ways we can intentionally disciple the younger women in our lives?  Have you experienced "Titus 2" discipleship? 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Holiday Favorites Recipe Swap

It's that time again ladies! Recipe swap time! This month we want to know what your favorite holiday dish is. Do you make an amazing turkey? Or maybe there is a go to dish that you always bring to the holiday table? Blog about it and post your link in the comments below.

My favorite holiday dish is kind of new to our family. I found the recipe last year just before Thanksgiving and knew I had to try it out!

Farm Chicks Sweet Potato Bake

1 29 ounce can sweet potatoes, drained and coarsely mashed
1/4 butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pecan Topping:
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine topping ingredients together in a small mixing bowl until mixture is combined and crumbly. Set aside. In another bowl, combine filling ingredients and stir until well combined. Scoop into a small casserole pan and top with pecan topping. Bake for 30 minutes or until topping is browned and bubbly. Makes 12 servings.
Tip: You can always substitute fresh-cooked sweet potatoes for the canned. 4-5 sweet potatoes should be used.

My house is a nut free home, so when I bake this I substitute mini marshmallows for the pecan topping and put them on top for the last 10 minutes or so.

I have never liked sweet potatoes before this yummy dish. Might have something to do with the mass amounts of sugar, but it's still delicious. And no one should worry about dieting during the holidays, right? :-)


For more great recipes check out the Farm Chicks Blog, Serena has lots of great seasonal and homestyle goodies. Just click the "recipe" tab on the right of the page.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Women's Ministry in the Local Church: Chapter 7 Discussion (Community)

by Melissa at Breath of Life

My husband & I have been a part of our church family for 15 years. They are the people who have loved us through hard times, celebrated the birth of our daughter, and grieved the illness and death of my father-in-law. They have been constant. We have learned what community is all about through our church family. My life has echoed the quote included at the beginning of Chapter 7, Community, “ the church when the multitude is gathered together, a fire is kindled in my heart and it breaks its way through.” (Martin Luther)

In this chapter, Hunt & Duncan walk us through the effect a thriving women’s ministry can have on a church’s sense of community. We are charged to care for our fellow church members. Community is vital for a church to grow. “Nurturing community life in a congregation is much like developing family life in the home. We must spend time together. We must get to know one another. We must share a common life.” (pg. 109) How does it start? With women. A successful women’s ministry will teach the idea of covenant, will incorporate celebrations, give women a chance to share their stories, encourage members of the body, and give members a sense of being part of the fold.

As I read, I was reminded that the author of Hebrews tells us to consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together (Heb. 10:24-25, ESV). Church shouldn’t be about how wonderful the choir sounds, how new the building is, or even how dynamic the preaching is (although it must be Biblical!). I can stay home and watch some pretty great preaching on television, but if I limit my church experience to doing just that, I’m missing out.

Hunt & Duncan give excellent practical ideas that will grow a church family closer together, and that focus on people rather than programs. Any social organization can have events that entertain, and perhaps even meet some needs, but the church is to be set apart in its mission. We are to serve and glorify God, not ourselves.

In his book Dug Down Deep, Joshua Harris gives an analogy that has caused me to understand and appreciate the role of my church in my life. Harris says he used to imagine that life was a bus ride, and church was the stop at the gas station to get fueled up and ready to get through the next part of the journey. Now he realizes that church is the ride itself - it’s the people we do life with. Community.

I’m completely in love with my church family, from the toothless , grinning babies to the wise silver-haired seniors. I haven’t always appreciated this blessing, but I’m determined not to take it for granted. What about you? Is your church family a true family?