LIGHT-HOUSES

Twice a week we host different groups from church in our home.  I’m always inside scurrying to get things cleaned up and then hosting, so I don’t often think about what it looks like from the outside—until my neighbor mentioned it one day.  Through her thick Ukranian accent she said, “Every time I look outside there are cars at Anita and David’s!  All the time they are having parties!  They are party animals!”

On one hand, this was so humorous to me, but then I realized the irony of it.  And sadness of it.  Our home is where we gather Christians to dig deeper into His word and in relationship to Jesus and each other, but how shamefully we fail to reach out to our neighbors.

It’s almost as if we have our home’s doors locked shut to the outside rather than opened for neighbors to come on in and stay awhile.

Recently we talked at church about the environments of our church, homes, and hearts:  the foyer, living room, and kitchen.  Since much of what I do is attempt to make our house a home and a sanctuary from the world, this has really resonated with me.  But I’ve started to think more about how I can make our home a sanctuary for the world, or at least for some in my corner of the world.

Matthew 5:1 says,  “You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”  

I’m reminded again how we have the answer to what the world yearns for and unknowingly seeks—Jesus.  And it’s in the darkest dark where the light shines brightest, which seems about right now.

So, I’ve got some house cleaning to do, so to speak, so I can shine some Light a little brighter.

The foyers of my home and heart need facelifts.  Simply that—more smiling. Who wants to engage with a preoccupied, too worried, unsmiling face?  We get our heads so buried in our phones or mental checklists that it debilitates us from connecting with those around us.  The people at the bank, Target, or Starbuck’s are relationships that can lead to a connection with Jesus.  But in order to share the joy of Jesus, we have to look up, smile, ask some questions and really listen to the human across the counter.

The living room can be a little tougher to spruce up.  It requires we invite people inside to come sit on the couch that’s a little lumpy and stay for awhile next to the walls that have paint chipped in the pretty color.  We may struggle with this because our “living room” isn’t as pristine as someone else’s.  But that’s actually what most people are looking for, the cozy spot where they can sink in and stay awhile.  No one wants the couch covered in plastic.  Off with the protective veneers.  Let’s just experience life and sit in places that are real, stained, and exposing some holes.   There’s truly a comfort about being in such places together.

The kitchen in my home, and the one in my heart, can be very possessive places for me.  The “kitchen” is my hub and oftentimes I feel quite capable all by myself in there, without any input from anyone else. But when others join me in that small space, they start to add in a little of their “ingredient” to the mix of my life.  Sometimes it’s pleasant and other times it can pack a punch, yet in the end, it’s always of benefit to the wholeness that’s being created there.

Let’s face it, no one has time for all this preparation.  So, we have to make time.  For most of us that means saying no to some good things to make room for the best things.

We are the city on a hill.  In our individual homes and hearts, we are lighthouses pointing the world in darkness to the Light of the World—Jesus.

There may be no better time than now, the upcoming holidays, for opening the door wide and inviting people to come have a seat and stay awhile.   For we have the best Gift in the world to share this Christmas.  Imagine if they never got the opportunity to know about it.

Maybe one day we won’t just live next door to people we only know on the surface, but we will stand beside them in church and then be seated next to them at the banquet table in our Father’s House!  Now, that is a party I want to enjoy for eternity!


Anita Everly is the wife of David and mom to their three sons.  She can be found watching the lives of her men unfold, creating a home, and encouraging other women in life and motherhood.  She is striving to live life on purpose because she is crazy in love with the One who is crazy in love with her.

Extra Strength: Love Does: I am With You

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge.

ExtraStrengthEdit

Extra Strength for Love Does: I am With You.

I quit.  And it wasn’t even a Thursday.

It could have seemed short-sighted, but it wasn’t really.

During a recent breakfast with a friend, she said, “I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be doing right now. All I know is that I needed to clear my plate and be available for the Lord’s work.”  I loved that!

This caused me to pause and think long and hard about all of my endeavors in life.

Seven years ago I had experienced that freedom from over-commitment when my husband and I moved our family here and we consciously chose to keep the slate clear for a year. During that time I let the Lord work and move me on a daily basis, showing me only those important things with which I needed to fill my life, without my personal agenda. Truly being Spirit-led.

But over time I let more and more creep into my schedule. Good, good things, too. As I reflected on this summer, one of the busiest I’ve ever had, I realized I had added one too many things and tipped the scales. I’d lost my balance. A recalibration was necessary. So, I’ve taken inventory and begun to quit some things.

blog 10.8.14While there are a lot of good things I do, there’s a lot that depletes my life. Social media, and media in general, has had to dramatically decrease for me. That extra half hour of sleep—I don’t miss it after all. A few minutes less sleep is far outweighed by getting more accomplished in the morning so there is more space later in the day to say yes.

And this big thing I quit? In reality, the Lord helped me realize that holding on to this bigger commitment that I really loved was actually hijacking someone else’s opportunity to use her gifts. I needed to step aside. And now, good things are pouring out of her because I got out of the way.

That’s all part of the reason I quit.

The other?

I am surrounded by people I want to be beside as they walk through life. People I want to love well.

I have a house full of men whose lives I don’t want to miss. There are new neighbors I have yet to spend time with more than a wave and superficial conversation. Friends who I have been too busy to meet for coffee and listen to what’s going on in their lives are still on the back burner. I’ve felt nudges to write a note or give someone a phone call, but I’ve ignored these because I’ve been too busy scurrying about.

If we are called to follow Jesus’ command to walk in love (2 John 1:6), then that requires a slower pace and more space to be “all there” for unexpected opportunities, as well as planned appointments.

The Word of God takes us to where God wants our lives to intersect with those in our path He wants us to love. We need to invite God to take us where He wants us to love. Moment by moment. – Pastor Joe Boerman

May we echo the porter’s call of the Benedictine tradition who stands at the gate and says, “How can I help you on your way?” and be unscheduled enough to walk in love alongside each one with whom God intersects our lives.

Who needs you to walk with them?

What do you need to quit to love?

It’s worth it to live in grace and walk in love. Just like our Father.

Anita Everly is the wife of David and mom to their three sons.  She can be found watching the lives of her men unfold, creating a home, and encouraging other women in life and motherhood.  She is striving to live life on purpose because she is crazy in love with the One who is crazy in love with her.


Be Challenged:

  • Read and ponder the Love Does guide and discuss it with your partner, a friend or small group.
  • Quit something. Quit something that is keeping you from God and from your other priorities (think people not projects!).
  • Say yes to God when He puts an opportunity in front of you to love someone. Snap a picture of your moment (if it’s not awkward) and post it to social media using the hashtag #icLoveDoes as a way to help encourage others on the journey.

Extra Strength: The Gospel Must Be Proclaimed

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge.

Seven billion people on planet earth and you are one of them, living in this time, planted in your place.

Take a look around you. Peer over that screen. Who do you see? Who’s down the hall? Next door? Across the street? Whose path do you cross everyday?

Are you sure they all know about Jesus?

As Pastor Joe stated, “Half the world doesn’t know what you know about Jesus. People have to hear; so people have to tell.”

We are surrounded daily by people who do not know about Jesus and His sacrifice for them. Nor do they know of His transformational power on earth or the gift of eternal life after death.

Do we care enough to share?

Processed with MoldivPerhaps that’s where it start — loving those around us enough to share the Good News. We can so easily get caught up in the annoyances of others, or simply just apathetic to caring about them. We exalt our own families and friends and ignore the rest.

It’s the second greatest commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39)

What if you don’t love those non-believers around you much? Pray to love them. Pray for them period.

Since Sunday, I have been reflecting on the comment made by Deb in the video, “We need to pray for those who don’t know Christ. We need to pray they feel a need for Him.”

Deb got it. She cared enough about her friend to pray for him. A guy she saw regularly at work, in the ordinariness of life.

While God was giving Deb a concern for Dave knowing Christ, God was also stirring Dave’s heart for something more to this life.

And as promised in the Word (Acts 1:8), filled with the Holy Spirit, Deb was able to boldly ask Dave, “If I gave you a Bible would you read it?” Thus beginning the journey of Dave coming to know Christ.

And now Dave has entrusted his life to Christ and has done the same thing for others: prayed, loved and shared.

Ordinary people sharing Good News in everyday places.

Look around again. Who in your life needs Jesus?

As Pastor Joe said, “There is no perfect time to tell.”

And you’re there right now, real close.

So why not now?

Anita Everly is the wife of David and mom to their three sons.  She can be found watching the lives of her men unfold, creating a home, and encouraging other women in life and motherhood.  She is striving to live life on purpose because she is crazy in love with the One who is crazy in love with her.

 

Be Challenged: 

  • Are you giving people what they want or giving people what they need? It’s specific to everyone so asking the Holy Spirit for guidance is crucial.
  • Are you allowing enough quiet space in our lives for God to speak with you about the people in our lives?
  • Do you feel the Spirit leading you to invite some to have a spiritual conversation or to check out the Alpha Course? The Alpha Course free information brunch is Saturday, Sept. 13 at 9 a.m. at Key Lime cove in Gurnee.