Adorning* with Good Works

good works

good works

Doing Good – a Service

My nursing supervisor came up the hallway of our unit carrying a bag of dirty laundry. Opening the laundry chute with the key, she heaved the stuffed bag from the floor and aimed for the opening. From the nurses’ station, I heard it swoosh six floors down to ground level.

If shame could color one’s face, mine would have been crimson. My supervisor professed no faith in God. Her lifestyle and her language told me enough about her nonexistent relationship to God. That day, however, she exhibited more “doing good” than I.

I had just walked past that double-laundry holder in the hallway. After all, it was not my job.  There were other things I needed to be doing, and charting was one of them. In just a few minutes, the aides and orderlies would be able to walk out the door while the nurses remained, signing off on patients’ charts. I had every right to withhold my services for something more important, which included the legality of signing off on my work for the day before I left for home. My supervisor was going to stay later than I, but she didn’t give that as an excuse to leave the laundry bags standing in the hall.

God’s Instructions on Service

God has many instructions for how women are to live and to serve. Selfishness is not a part of His will for us, but we often seem to forget that as we try to look out for our ‘rights’.

Many Anabaptist women have heard teaching on modesty and the wearing of jewelry. Perhaps what we’re lacking is teaching about the “ornaments of good works.”

In I Timothy 2, Paul writes with instructions for women:

I would have the women dress becomingly, with modesty and self-control, not with plaited hair or gold or pearls or costly clothes, but—as befits women making a claim to godliness—with the ornament of good works. 

Nowhere in scripture are we instructed to be sloppy or uncaring about our appearance. However, we are to focus more on the internal than the external. In this epistle, women are instructed to be dressed modestly and appropriately for the occasion. Modesty means not too much, and not too little. Either one is worldly and will draw attention to oneself, which should not be our goal. When our external appearance occupies our mind and focus, instead of virtues of the heart, we fail.

good works

The Heart of the Matter

How we dress and how we act reflects our heart. Colossians 1:10 tells us that we are to be fruitful in every good work and to increase in the knowledge of God. Work is action. It is not planning or intending to do something; it is doing.

During Jesus’ last days, a woman came to him and used her expensive perfume to anoint His feet. When people complained, Jesus hushed them. He said, “She has done what she could.”

This woman had a story of sin but Jesus redeemed her, and she wanted to show her love for Him. She didn’t have much to offer, but she did what she could. Her action was a foreshadowing of His death and burial as the perfume filled the entire house.

Was it wasted? No.

Did she do this to show off to others? No.

She wanted to show her love for Jesus; she wanted to show how He had changed her life, so she gave sacrificially and expensively. We should, too.

When we choose to serve others (doing good works), we should be doing it to show Jesus how much He means to us. If I had taken that laundry bag and dragged it up the hall with an attitude of “I’m doing this for You, Jesus, because You have taken my dirty rags and made me whiter than snow”, it would have been the same as what Mary did. That reflection of my heart would have been more powerful than any clothing, cosmetics, or jewelry I could have worn. Forty years later, I don’t remember how my supervisor was dressed or adorned that day, but I cannot forget the reflection of her heart.

Consider examples of women in Scripture. Lydia, known for selling purple, is also known for hosting Paul and his fellow teachers. These men didn’t have a base from which to work, so Lydia did what she could: she provided hospitality. The Shunamite woman talked her husband into building a room on top of their house for Elisha.  In that room, they provided a bed, a table, a chair and a lamp.  Another example is the Proverbs 31 woman (the one to whose standard we can never achieve) stretches out her hands to the poor and needy. Dorcas, whose death caused so much consternation among the people in her community, was full of good works and acts of charity. 

A Legacy of Good Works

When we die, what will people miss most about us? Our title, job, and income? Or, will they miss the good works we do today? In our “works”, we need to look at the person’s actual needs or desires and not at what we want to do or what we would want done if we were in that situation.

Ministering or doing good involves not only meeting physical needs, but emotional and spiritual needs as well. Kind words, encouragement, and getting-in-the-trenches love to needy folks are ways we can do good. Scripture tells us that Jesus “went about doing good.” 

What are the good things Jesus did? Think about where and how He did good: healing, feeding, quieting storms, touching, and blessing children. Jesus reached out to those who were ostracized. He touched the unclean and ate with sinners on their turf. In addition to taking care of physical problems, He restored broken hearts.

Jesus calls us to be like Him. As women, He calls us specifically to be adorned and attired by ornaments of good works.good works

Jesus touched lives. Do we?

good works

 

This article was first published in the Homespun edition of Daughters of Promise Magazine. For more information about this magazine, or to get an online or a print subscription, visit here

 

Freedom in Liberty

freedom

freedomJuly 4th. The day our country celebrates its liberation from England. The day we celebrate liberty.

There’s another kind of liberty, and it’s the kind we don’t hear much about these days.

Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but the power to do what we ought. That’s liberty. 

Certainly, I can make choices because I live in this free country. I have “rights” and “privileges” as a citizen of the United States. I pay taxes and abide by the laws (now that speed limit one is hard to do 100% of the time)! Because I am a citizen, I have my rights.

 

There’s another country that gives citizenship as well: the Kingdom of Heaven. For those of us who are citizens there, we also have “rights” and “privileges”.

freedom

In the liberty of this Kingdom there are orders given and they are found in Galatians 5:13 For you . . . have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

What does this mean? As pilgrims in a foreign land, it means that –

  • we march to a different drum beat
  • just because we legally can do something, it does not mean we should
  • our actions and attitudes should be measured by how we can serve others
  • serving others is a higher calling than looking out for ourselves
  • our “freedom” does not give us license to serve our flesh or to cause someone else to struggle
  • the stronger person will do what is right even when he has the freedom to do what he wants

How about it? How is your freedom? Do you have Liberty?

freedom pinterest

Easy Hospitality

hospitality

hospitality

Easy Hospitality

“There’s somebody pounding on the door,” Sandy told me.

Two o’clock in the morning?! Who could that be?!

The night seemed foreboding. Could this be a ploy?

Looking through the window I saw only her, crying, “Please help me. I’ve been raped.”

Cold, wet, and trembling, she rushed inside when I opened the door and ushered her to the sofa. In short gasps, she told her story, admitting she had lied. She was not raped, but was threatened. He offered her a ride home at the bar where they met. Instead of taking her in the direction of home, he drove down the forlorn River Road. When he threatened her in his stupor, she opened the car door and fell out. Waiting in the bushes until she thought he was gone, she ran to the trailer nestled next to a large warehouse by the river.

“I saw the light on the porch, and I felt I could trust you,” she sobbed.

The man drove by and then turned, coming back our way. That was when she begged to be let inside. Even after she was inside, he kept driving by our trailer.

There were two other guests in our trailer that night. My sister (asleep in the room we were sharing) and an elderly Amish man, asleep in my bedroom.

When it seemed safe to leave, we drove her to her apartment. We never saw her again.

Is it wrong to take risks? Was it wise to allow her into our home? Do we only invite others into our world when we feel prepared and safe?

Wide awake after our return, I remembered my prayer a few months before. A single nurse living fifty miles from home, I felt disconnected and frustrated that my schedule prohibited me from participating regularly in my church’s events and activities.

One day I told God, “I feel useless with little to give, but I offer my trailer to You.”

hospitality

God took me up on that offer. 

  • Within a few months, a family asked permission to park their motor home at our place during the father’s hospitalization for cancer. They hooked their power to our electric meter and ran a hose from our water supply. They stayed several weeks.
  • Then Sandy, a single mom, asked to stay with us one night a week while taking college classes. Our sofa became her bed.
  • During that same period, an Amish woman from our community had surgery at our hospital. We offered my bed to her husband Reuben and I moved into my sister’s bedroom.

That was why both Sandy and Reuben were with us the night this girl arrived on our porch.

 

And I thought all I had was a two-bedroom trailer.

 

hospitality
The pineapple is a symbol of hospitality

God only asks us to share what we have. He will use it.

When the disciples suggested the crowds be sent away, Jesus instructed them to feed those people. Really? Feed 5,000 men plus women and children? They had been busy all day long. It was late. They were tired and wanted to go home. But then, since when should hospitality only be practiced when it looks fun?

There was a lad with a lunch of five loaves and two fish. It wasn’t much, but it became more than enough when it was given to Jesus.

 

God asks us to share what we have for His use.

On a whim one Sunday, my Sunday school teacher invited her class for lunch. She also invited her son’s friends who were our age. I have no idea how over a dozen boys and girls squeezed into their car for the ride home. I cannot tell you what food was served or the design on the plates at her table. Never mind that my teacher had a heart condition, was never healthy, and died young.  All I know is fifty years later this is still one of my favorite childhood memories. What made it so special? Her spontaneous warmth and affirmation.

God will use what we willingly share.

The Shunamite woman saw Elisha’s need as he came through her community. She and her husband built a simple room onto their house with a bed, a table, a stool, and a candlestick. Her purpose? To meet the needs of the Prophet. What an example of gracious hospitality! Read the story beginning in verse eight of  2 Kings 4. 

God will use what we have and share.

When I was a child, my church owned three meeting houses, one centrally located and the other two at opposite ends of the county. Our congregation rotated meeting centrally one Sunday and at opposite ends on alternate Sundays. Because of travel distance, folks outside the community chose a home to visit for lunch, arriving unannounced and uninvited! What fun to decide where we would go this Sunday. On opposite Sundays, we waited expectantly to see what guests might come to our house!

Years later, my aunt Della shared about the Sunday people kept coming until she had twenty uninvited guests plus her family of eight to serve. Going to the basement to get more canned fruit, she had a good cry before heading back upstairs.

We have lost something since then. Or perhaps some of us never found it in the first place!

Hospitality is an art and a command.  There are many scriptures instructing us in hospitality. You can check out a few of them here if you’re wondering what God really says about hospitality: Isaiah 58:7; I.Peter 4:8,9; Leviticus 19:33, 34;  Luke 14:2-14. Some of us might need a little more practice and experience, but the ability is right there if we are willing to hone that heart attitude.

When folks feel the welcome and the warmth of a gracious host, they fail to notice a less than perfect house. Lonely people need belonging and care, not exotic food and fanfare. Waiting until we are ‘ready’ or ‘feel like’ having company is no way to practice hospitality. In fact, it is not true hospitality.

hospitality

There are many ways to do hospitality, and there is no set standard. Be who you are, and share what you have. Hospitality is not about entertaining or about showing off what we own or what we can do. Hospitality is not a competition. It is about blessing others with belonging, value, and importance. Hospitality is the affirmation we give to others that they are of value.

When we invite folks whose lifestyles we cannot approve into our homes, we are giving them Jesus. When we share what we have to help ease the burdens of others, we are sharing the compassion of Jesus. When we provide rest and refreshment for God’s people, we are enabling their mission.

God wants us to give what we have, doing it willingly and cheerfully.

He wants us to open, not only the doors of our homes, but the doors of our hearts as well.

 

Hors D’oeuvres on Hospitality

  • Remember that there are many different ways to do hospitality.
  • Be yourself, and keep competition and comparison out of the picture. not someone else. Share what you have            instead of comparing yourself with others.
  • Keep competition out of the picture. If you are not a china person, use paper plates.
  • Allow others to serve differently than you, even if they use china.
  • Ask for help; don’t try to do it all. Guests can help provide food.
  • Start by giving the invitation. Once you have done that, you will have to move ahead!
  • If you are new to hosting, begin by inviting someone just for dessert instead of an entire meal.
  • Keep it simple. Less is more. Simplify your menu; have plenty of it.
  • If you only have room for ten, invite ten, not fifty.
  • If your house is small, invite a larger crowd with a yard party; ask folks to bring lawn chairs or blankets.
  • True hospitality willingly hosts those who never return the favor.
  • Genuine hospitality does not withhold favor based on status or behavior.
  • Hospitality should come before pride. Remember: it is not about you. It is about the value and worth of others.

To read more about the pineapple and its symbol of hospitality, you can click here and here.

This article was published in 2017 in Daughters of Promise Magazine.click here For more information about the magazine, .

hospitality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Fire, a Fuel Stop, and Two Sisters

Family stories are such fun to tell. With those stories, you have to know the people or you had to have been there. Unless you fit in at least one of these categories, they’re usually not funny to the average Joe.

Like the time two of my sisters went on vacation together. They came through southern Virginia on their way home to see us. Dave and I hadn’t been married more than a year or two, and he didn’t know these gals as well as he does now. That evening, he was just shaking his head at their escapades. We are still laughing about this episode.

If one of my sisters can do something illegal and get away with it, it’s the older one. She’ll drive the wrong way on a one-way street (not on purpose, of course), but nobody ever sees her. Speed limit? What’s that? Tickets? Very few. If she is stopped, she manages to weasel her way out of it in a totally innocent fashion.  She always knows someone who knows someone, and she gets off Scott-free.

They told us about the evening in the hotel when the fire alarm went off. One of them wanted to throw her suitcase out the window from the fifth story. Luckily, youngest sister stopped her before her wallet-stashed-with-money-hidden-in-the-suitcase disappeared into the night. Too excited to get dressed, they threw housecoats on and took the steps to the lobby, where they found other guests fully clothed and totally calm since there really was no fire. The alarm was the result of a child pulling on the bar.

Their last stop before they turned down the road to the Union community was at the gas station in Halifax – back in the days before Self Service came into play, back when an attendant washed your windshield and checked your oil while pumping gas for you.

They pulled into the station and failed to notice that this was a “self-serve” island. Never fear.

Older sister rolled down her window and called to the gentleman coming out of the store, “Can you fill it up, please?”

They noticed he seemed a little startled, but he proceeded to pump their gas.

Older sister stuck her head out the window again, “Do you wash windshields?”  (Where she was from, attendants always wash windshields while they are pumping your gas, and she couldn’t figure out why she had to even ask him to do this for her. After all, it should be part of the service.)

service station window squeegie

As a true gentleman, he proceeded to the front of her car and washed the windshield for her.

Then he got into his pickup truck on the other side of the island and drove away.

That was when they realized they had pulled into a self-serve island and been served by another customer.

Who knows what stories he told when he got home that evening?!

Was he shaking his head in bewilderment or in laughter at these obvious northerners who lacked a southern drawl?

Did he notice their out-of-state license plate or recognize their Yankee accent? Did he think they were lazy or foolhardy, or did he realize that they had no idea they’d pulled into a self-service island?

He could have said, “Serve yourself,”  but he didn’t. He could have said, “That ain’t my job,” but he didn’t. He could have shrugged his shoulders, hopped into his pickup and rolled away. He didn’t.

Truly a southern gentleman, he filled their request without complaint, reprimand, or disdain.

That, my friends, is service at its very best.