Saturday, June 18, 2016


I have read this story several times and am so appalled by the end that I miss the beginning.  In Judges 19 there is a story of an unfaithful wife who returns home to her parents. She is also called his concubine. He goes to get her and each night her dad begs them to stay just one more night.  After 6 nights they go and the night they leave she is raped to death by men from Benjamin and then her husband cuts her into 12 pieces and sends her body to the tribes of Israel to rally them against the men of Benjamin because they are so evil.  
It is a terrible story and I almost just skimmed it this morning, but I read it anyhow.  I have no insight and still don't like to read it.  But today, I really paused at this part:

“So they went on, and the sun set as they neared Gibeah in Benjamin. There they stopped to spend the night. They went and sat in the city square, but no one took them in for the night. That evening an old man from the hill country of Ephraim, who was living in Gibeah (the inhabitants of the place were Benjamites), came in from his work in the fields. When he looked and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, “Where are you going? Where did you come from?” He answered, “We are on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim where I live. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going to the house of the Lord. No one has taken me in for the night. We have both straw and fodder for our donkeys and bread and wine for ourselves your servants—me, the woman and the young man with us. We don’t need anything.” “You are welcome at my house,” the old man said. “Let me supply whatever you need. Only don’t spend the night in the square.” So he took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After they had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.”
Judges 19:14-21 NIV

I think that most of the people in the town must have been afraid at how travelers were treated so they were not hospitable.  The old man apparently knew because he told them that they must not stay in the town square.  Of such a night I remember reading in Genesis with the 3 visitors and Lot in Sodom and Gamorrah. 
Anyhow, I think about today, there is no such hospitality to strangers.  Our culture, our country, is not set up to take people in.  When you go to a town of your kinsmen, you don't sit in the center of town until someone takes you in.  There is so much "stranger danger" mindset with grown-ups that we wouldn't dare take in someone we do not know.  We are the rest of the town.  We may choose to give $10 to someone's "fund me" page, but rarely ever to a stranger's. Who knows if they're really in need or just scamming.  
I know that my heart has hardened to giving to those who live off of others' hospitality.  It makes me cautious to give to anyone.  There will always be poor among you, but you will not always have Me is something Jesus said when anointed with expensive perfume.  There will always, I'm guessing, be those who take advantage of hospitality, but the love your neighbor as yourself principle didn't go away.  And interestingly when Jesus explained who my neighbor is, He didn't give an example of someone in my family tree or even my same race.  He gave an example of hospitality given by a Samaritan.  Someone who was detested by those He spoke to, was to be considered a neighbor. 
How do I know if I will be taken advantage of or not?  I don't always know, but I can use the discerning brain God gave me to detect a scam.  We all know someone who we believe abuses the hospitality of others.  When I see it, I get mad, but there is often a child watching and the child sees that people still give and still care.  I have also seen a begging child in a third world country who had cash taken away by his handler as soon as they thought the foreigners were out of sight.  It breaks my heart, but someone with me reminded me that the child was at least fed by our money.
I am just rethinking how I can be giving and hospitable.  The next time I have an urge to be hospitable, it is likely the Holy Spirit guiding me to be an answer to someone's prayer.  I am praying to be more sensitive as to when I should or should not.  
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
Hebrews 13:2 NIV

Friday, January 1, 2016


As I prepared a worship set, I was really excited and expectant to see what God was getting ready to do.  Later in the day, I heated up a piece of Fried chicken and sat on the couch to eat it.  My son's puppy was sitting beside me as I ate it.  She was very alert, ears perked up and looking at me with an excited longing.  I don't generally share my chicken with her, but she still was expectant in that slight chance that she might get just a morsel.  I stand up and she jumps to the floor and starts bouncing around and follows me clear to the kitchen trash where I dispose of the bones and then to the dishwasher as I put my empty plate in there. 
I thought of this puppy and her excitement.  She does this ALL.THE.TIME!  She rarely gets rewarded for her persistence because of her sensitive stomach and my distaste for dog puke, but she still persists with expectancy!  WOW!  In this scenario, I had a God moment! 
How many times have I come before Him with an excited expectancy and things didn't turn out in my favor?  Do I come before Him the next time with the same hunger and excitement, or do I bring my doubt with me?  After a few times of not getting what I wanted, I lower my expectations.  Sometimes I recognize that what I wanted was not good for me, but there are times that I didn't have expectations and what I could have gotten would have been precisely what I need! 
This expectancy and doubt cycle can come when praying for a miracle, during worship service, when planning an event, when delivering a message, with personal goals and dreams, or in other situations that I can't think of at the moment.  That doesn't give us permission to give up.  I want to be like Sadie, the puppy.  When there is something that I'm asking/begging for.  I want to act as though it were going to be given.  If I am passed by, I will just wait until my next opportunity and ask again.  One of these times, the timing will be right and I will get that thing and wag my tail all the more!  And it really won't just happen once, it will happen over and over, because that is how God works!  If I can give good gifts to my children, how much more will God give to His?
Even in a service where I'm not a part of the ministry, I need to go with expectancy because this might just be the moment that God is going to pour out His Spirit upon me and amaze me again!  When I am a part of the ministry, I need to not look at the probability of low or high attendance and change my expectancy level accordingly.  IF I feel that what I expected wasn't what happened, I can walk away and know that what God poured out will not return to Him without accomplishing what He planned to accomplish.  I can say, "Next time!" with enthusiasm!
There are times as well that expectancy goes unanswered and not because it's not time, but because He wants us to push a little harder.  I love the story of what we endearingly call, "The persistent widow."
Matthew 15:21-28 NLT

21 Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”

23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.
Another scripture has spoken to me as well.  In Luke 11, Jesus says that if you go to a friend's house at midnight and ask for 3 loaves of bread, he really tries to brush you off because they are in bed already, but because of persistence, he gives it to you.
Luke 11:8 NIV

I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
Both of these people pushed harder to get what they wanted and were rewarded.  I want to know when to push and when to release and know that God is God and that is enough.  Wherever and whatever the situation, I want to start this year with EXPECTANCY!  I don't know what God has in mind.  I'm spending this next week praying about goals and "resolutions," but as I do this I don't want to be flippant.  I want to be expectant!