Have you ever come home from a hang-out with other Christians and just felt empty?
It's not that it was anyone's fault in particular. The meal was delicious. There wasn't any gossip. There were even some really, really funny moments. You know your friends love Jesus too. But for some reason you just feel drained.
Or maybe you just came home from a hang-out and your heart is so glad.
You can praise God for what He's doing in that aquaintance's life. You can pray for your friend who admitted that struggle to you. And that random conversation with someone you'd never really met before enabled you to share that beautiful thing you learned from the Word yesterday! You have some new thoughts stewing in your mind now, and you feel full.
I've experienced both. Of course we long for the second scenario every time we're with friends, but...how do we make it happen? We don't want to be the Gossip Police. We don't want people I hardly to know to think I'm trying to be their accountability partner. But we don't want to leave empty.
It is such a privilege that we get to spend time with people who are also exiles in this temporary home. 1 John 1:7a says "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another."
We believers are all walking in the light together! We are all bought with His precious blood! We are all fellow heirs! I can't even count how many scriptures proclaim this theme.
The friendships we make within the body often times don't make sense, so let's show the world how the gospel creates solid, real friendships between people who otherwise have nothing in common.
"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death." -1 John 3:14
Several years ago I heard a really helpful (and brief!) sermon by John Piper called "Explosive Fellowship" in which he looked at the church in Acts and was challenged by how profitable their time together was, not only for the people in that group but for the world! Here's a powerful quote:
"Life is too short, the world and the age in which we live is too evil, the people outside are too broken and hopeless for us to be content with a kind of 'business-as-usual' fellowship that has no power, no fruit, no effectiveness, and no explosion. There's just too much at stake to play games today!"
Scripture challenges me even more:
Ephesians 4:29 says "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."
Oh my! May my mouth be an outlet of God's grace to the people in my life!
I have not done a very good job at this, but here are some questions I thought of that we can ask other believers that might help give us more profitable fellowship.
1. How has your joy been lately?
2. What stirs your affections for Christ? (Matt Chandler preached a really good sermon on this question!)
3. Have you been able to really get into the gospel with an unbeliever lately?
4. Are there any scriptures that you have really been meditating on lately?
5. How has the character of God been challenging you? Encouraging you?
6. This is my situation; can you help me think of ways I can be missional where I am?
7. What are some of your favourite worship songs?
8. Have you seen any movies/read any novels lately that either challenged you or made you appreciate the gospel?
9. (Ask about a theological question you've been struggling with.)
10. How can I pray for you?
"It is explosive with joy, explosive with power, explosive with ministry vision and mission outreach and life-transformation for the people being loved and cared for compassionately within. It's an explosive thing in the New Testament, this thing called fellowship." -John Piper
What are some scriptures that challenge you in your interaction with other believers?
What is your experience of fellowship? How can it be more fruitful and explosive? What are some questions you can think of that might help curb the conversation Christward?
Note: This is focused on the significance of being a homemaker. I wrote most of it before Stephen was born. In later posts I may address the significance of being a mother and of being a layperson.
Marriage is expectedly not what I expected. I imagined a world where my husband and I would spend all day reading the Bible together and stay up all night praying together and host Bible studies for lost people all the time in our home. And when we weren’t doing those things, we’d snuggle by the fire. I don’t know why, but I didn’t factor big time-stealers like “daily responsibilities” and “work” and “sleep” into the equation.
All of my unmarried life, I had been reminding myself of the urgency of the hour and how I needed to pour myself out for Jesus. So when I found myself spending the majority of my days within the same 800 square feet, cleaning things that would only get dirty again the next day, and cooking things that would only nourish us for a few hours, I felt like I was wasting my life.
In short, my mindset has had to change a lot. I had unrealistic expectations of my husband, my children, and myself. I think I wanted to be a married woman with the Biblical womanhood of a single woman. I’ve learned that growth is so much more than increasing in intellectual and emotional knowledge of God. In 2 Peter 1, we are told to add to our faith virtue, knowledge, self-control with steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. Without these things our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ is “ineffective or unfruitful” for the kingdom.
I wanted to have the knowledge and the godliness, but virtue and the other items on the list were far less appealing. I had probably never worked hard in my whole life. I hold grudges like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t even have the discipline to force myself to try new foods.
Before I got married, I totally overestimated my own maturity because I didn’t really see the whole scope of what maturity is. I would elevate one aspect of godliness over other aspects that weren’t as enjoyable or easy to me.
So when I got married, I thought that cooking and cleaning was so insignificant. But as Betsy Ricucci writes, “In God’s eyes, there is nothing more significant than servanthood.”
Christ was such a servant! (See Philippians 2! Oh my goodness!) He humbled Himself, became a servant, and gave His life for us. We have the privilege of giving our lives for Him through the outlet of serving our husbands in the home.
At one point I told Peter I don’t really want to be a Proverbs 31 woman anymore.
He asked me, “Then who do you want to be?”
I replied frankly, “Paul.”
Paul was Christlike, yes. But the Proverbs 31 woman also beautifully follows Christ’s example...of servanthood.
Here is another Biblical truth that has struck me recently: Peter is my brother in Christ, of the household of faith, so in serving Him I am serving the Body for God’s sake. (Isn't that what pastors do?)
1 Timothy 6:1,2 talks about how slaves should “regard their own masters as worthy of all honour, so that the Name of God may not be reviled. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the grounds that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.”
So slaves must whole-heartedly honour their masters, especially if they are brothers of the faith. I am called to something so much better than slavery, so how much more should I honour my husband, who is my brother and not only Christ’s beloved but my very own!
By serving Peter, I am not just serving Peter. I am serving Christ, and I am serving the body! I am contributing good service to someone God loves very deeply. This is no small calling!
The LORD has been giving me such gladness over this lately. (It was a long battle for the first year of marriage and nagging discontentment still rears its ugly head sometimes.)
Wives, be encouraged. There is so much significance in what you are doing. And there are a lot of things you can still do from home that extend service to people outside of your home. I'll have some practical tips for that later.
Single women, enjoy your singleness! I am so grateful for every single day that I did not have to worry about serving my husband. God used those years to fill me.
I heard someone wisely advising a young man who was interested in getting married sometime soon, "Sow now. You will reap later."
10 For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others.
11 Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names.
12 Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.
There is no such thing as a glorious corpse.
No one can look at a dead body and be impressed with the power that person has, because there is no power.
I can imagine watching Alexander the Great being buried. He was put in a gold sarcophagus (which was stolen and eventually replaced with a glass one for the sake of coin making) but he surely looked like no pompous king. Some say a visitor accidentally knocked off his nose. The man who felt he owned the world laid still, limp, and stinky. Where was his greatness now? He couldn't even overcome death. His cold, dead body could defy no one; his worthless mind could rule nothing. Alexander the Great's glory is limited to historical memory. (And his kingdom quickly went into shambles after he died.)
So how vain it is to chase after our own glory!
A gorgeous bayfront home cannot be your dwelling place forever.
A toned, beautiful body will not be your body forever.
At one point you will be left with what you came to the world with, no matter how successful and/or self-made you are.
This reality has at least 2 major applications:
1) Seek what comes after death. It's inevitable, so find out everything you can about your options. Most people are more informed about car insurance than eternity.
2) Trust in the Man whose glory remains forever. He died but did not remain a corpse. He resurrected and has all power, all wisdom, all authority, all glory, FOREVER.
Cost: about $4
Long-ish tile from lowes or home depot ($1.50)
4-6 pictures ($1 or less) ...I used 4x6"
Picture stand from Walmart ($0.97)
Mod Podge and sponge (on hand)
Cover work surface (I use an old hand towel.)
Arrange pictures and trim if necessary. Remove.
Apply a coat of mod podge to the tile.
Place the pictures.
Apply a coat of mod podge (or use a solution of about 50% mod podge, 50% water like I did.)
Put on stand.
Voila! A great gift or a piece of home decor for yourself! Lots of creative potential with this but I just covered the frame completely.
Peter and I had been friends through church for years, but in December 2008 I began to see him as extremely marry-able, and I really wanted him to be my husband. He was the most Godly young man I knew, with intense dedication to scripture memorisation and a major gift for evangelism. It helped that he was really handsome and had a quirky, alluring personality. He was mysterious, and at times he'd be repulsive on purpose to girls that would flirt with him. He was risk-taking and bold...just the type of hero I would feel forever privileged to be able to call "mine."
But there was a problem: he didn't see me in that way and I knew it. He even told a friend, "I'd like to marry someone like Hope, but DEFINITELY not her."
This was heartbreaking. For two years I begged that God would take away these painfully strong feelings for him. Peter graduated high school and went to college at Trinity College of Florida during this time, and though I didn't see him for almost a year, any time I heard someone talking about him I could hardly breathe. He was a role model to me...even before I wanted him to be my husband I had established him as the standard. Anybody I seriously considered for marriage would have to be at least as awesome as Peter. But I never found anyone who met that standard, much less exceeded it.
After Peter's first year of college (about June 2009) he came home because of debt. He was working at a 100%-based-on-commission job selling cable TV, something of which he is extremely not fond. At the same time, my business owner dad was having trouble with his estimator (who was on drugs and stealing from him) and he was very stressed out. My heart was heavy for both of them. One day when I was praying for them, I had the idea that Peter could work for my dad. They tried it and Peter was a perfect fit for the job. My dad knew I was obsessed with Peter so he invited him to family functions, and Peter and I got to know each other very well. We would go to the mall on Thursday nights and hang out with deaf people. I would build relationships and sometimes even try to interpret for Peter, who had the boldness and skill to the share the Gospel. It was teamwork. It was beautiful.
Eventually I went to Trinity for my first year also. I LOVED it. God taught me a lot about Him and about being responsible, and it was very healthy. I read Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot and that changed my life. I was becoming content with singleness. But that nagging Peter Henchey would not go away...his reputation lingered at school. Classmates who had been friends with Peter from the year prior even said I reminded them of him. A handful of people called me "Lil' Henchey" or "Hope Henchey"---they didn't even know I knew him, much less adored him.
I came back home during Christmas break (2010) and decided to stay home and commute to college the next semester to save money. As of December 23rd, I was done with Peter. Our friendship had become very close and I did not have the self-control to love him as anything less than a future husband. I asked my dad to stop inviting him to things. Besides, while I was at college Peter traded in his car and bought a motorcycle. That is not a sign of someone who wants to start a family.
That night, Peter got into a motorcycle accident. By God's grace, it was the one time he hadn't been speeding too much, and he should have died but only ended up with some bumps and bruises...and a ruined bike. When he called me that night to tell me what happened, he said "I guess this is God's way of transitioning me into buying a car."
The next day (December 24th) Peter took my dad out to breakfast. I didn't think anything of it because I thought it was for business, but when my dad came home and called a "Family Meeting" I knew something was up. "When Peter called yesterday to schedule a meeting, he had said he wanted to discuss his romantic intentions about you," he told me. I couldn't believe it. But my dad continued to tell me that at breakfast Peter had shown my dad I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl, both books by Joshua Harris that Peter had studied and underlined in the past three days as he was preparing to ask my dad for permission to pursue me. My dad granted it, and Peter was to come over later that day to have the same discussion with me.
Peter spoke with me for a long time and showed me quotes from the books that had helped shape how he viewed courtship, engagement, and marriage. Peter did not say "I like you" but told me "I feel called to one day lay down my life for you." When he was finished, I admitted that I had liked him very strongly for almost exactly 2 years. He was very surprised; he hadn't been certain if I had any feelings for him at all!
We began with a deeper friendship that day, and for the next month we---without any mushiness---got to know each other. It was a beautiful time of praying and seeking God together and separately. We then entered courtship for three weeks, and on Valentine's Day 2011 Peter proposed. On May 22nd we were married. Peter washed my feet on our wedding night. He has been showing me the servant-leadership and love of Christ ever since.
In late June we evaluated our life plans. If I was going to be a stay-at-home mom and homeschool, that would mean I couldn't even have kids until 3 years later when I graduated from college. And when I graduated from college, wouldn't I want to have a career or something for awhile? It just didn't make sense to us to go through all that work when I'd just quit my job a couple years after starting so I could have children. (This is one of my soapboxes lol.) So we decided I would not continue in college and we would start having children as soon as God allowed it. He immediately opened my womb and I got pregnant in July.
We gave birth to Stephen Shane Henchey at home (another one of my soapboxes) on April 10, 2012, when I was 19 and Peter was 21. The past two years have been extremely full but extremely good. God's grace has been abundant.
I got over 200 likes when I posted the first picture of my newborn. Since then, almost every picture of my cute baby has received about 30-60+ clicks of approval. And those numbers only represent people who publicly acknowledged interest. Who knows how many eyes actually saw my Facebook page?
Or, to put it another way, how many souls are (through social media) observing my life?
For many lost people, Facebook might be their only exposure to Christianity. Granted, most Christian Facebook users are not going through such a newsworthy, stalkable life event as having a child, but we cannot be negligent of the fact that we are being watched by believers and non-believers and we must be careful to not waste our platform.
1 Corinthians 5:19,20 says "we are ambassadors for Christ, God making Hos appeal through us" and that He has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation. It is very easy to, in trying to impress our churchgoing Facebook friends, forget our lost audience and send mixed messages.
Those of us who believe in the doctrines of grace especially might unintentionally show the world an inconsistent view of God. In the morning we'll post an encouraging verse or quote about God's sovereignty, then by the evening we'll have a witty/sarcastic post complaining about the incompetent fast food employee and the guy who cut us off on our way home. "Well, which is it?" a lost person might wonder. Does God withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly, or does He regret that those inconveniences happened to you?
Philippians 2:14,15 never fails to convict me, and I think it's helpful to apply it also to my Facebook statuses.
"Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world."
We also can be insensitive to other brothers (who are just probably in the same place theologically that we were not that long ago) by posting humorous pictures or videos about the latest theological fumble a Christian public figure made. It's important to contend for the faith (Jude 3) but there are more effective ways of combating false doctrine than poking fun at it. If an Arminian brother or sister sees that we publicly belittle their soteriology, they might feel ashamed and we might become unapproachable. Far more seriously, if someone is being misled by the prosperity gospel, cheap jokes about Joel Osteen's white teeth won't help anyone come to knowledge of the truth and might only leave confusion. May we embrace the exhortation of 1 Thessalonians 5:14 to "admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all," on social media and in our everyday relationships.
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like chartreuse, calligraphy, Coke Icees, childbirth, crocs, Studio C, and...alliteration.
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today