A New Year: Thrive 1/16

a-new-year-thriveAfter our second session studying “What’s Best Next” by Matt Perman yesterday, I was reminded of when I was first learning Perman’s principles for productivity. The biblical way he approaches “getting organized” forced me to become a disciple again of God’s Word and learn something new for immediate practice. As it goes with most kinds of change, the process was challenging and at times painful. But just as we have read the last few weeks in his book, we are called to be good stewards of our time because we love God and therefore love people. Love and generosity should drive our productivity as well as our daily choices.

A few years ago a friend mommy blogger hosted a blog series, asking women to write entries on varied subjects while including practical tips relevant to their topic (see my original post here). Since I was at the time halfway through the pursuit of a Masters in Theological Studies, she asked me to write one offering tips on going back to school mid-mommyhood. As requested, I included practical tips that had helped me survive (including reading the book “What’s Best Next“!), but I also gave an apologetic for why I had chosen to go back to school in the first place. Below is an excerpt:

“At first thought, it may seem as if going back to school is a decision “for me.” Au contraire. My husband and I are approaching our 13th wedding anniversary, and of those 13 years, he was enrolled in either undergraduate or graduate school for almost a decade.

sara-family-2While there were several very difficult years (we added 4 to our family count in 7 years), I truly enjoyed the innumerable late night conversations as he stretched my brain working out his thoughts. Our little family stood beside him when he graduated with his Masters of Divinity, feeling like we all owned a part of that degree.

Little did I know God was preparing me for my own journey back to school as a homeschooling mom of 4.

Why go back?” “Who will this benefit?”

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-8-11-59-amFive years ago, my oldest was given a school assignment while studying the medieval time period. The assignment required the family to design and create a family crest. After much discussion (read debate), we all agreed on the following family motto: Amo, Disco, Duco: (I love, I learn, I lead). The motto was birthed out of Matthew 22:36-39 (ESV),

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

If you think about it, these verses drive the desire to be educated. As our love for God grows, we want to know Him more. As we know Him more, our love for Him grows. We know wisdom’s source:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10 ESV).

The Burt family motto, Amo, Disco, Duco merely speaks to the two greatest commandments Jesus provided as the foundation for our existence. In loving God we desire to learn. His love drives us to love and lead others, following in Christ’s footsteps.

Furthermore, do we ever cease to be a disciple? God has called and gifted each of us, empowering us to participate in the Cultural Mandate (Genesis 1:28). This means God is glorified as we cultivate and sharpen the gifts He has graciously given each of us, aiming to influence our culture.”

12359830_10207529807859740_1953154052611412749_nWith the Lord’s help and the never-ending support of my family, I finished the degree half a year later. Yet the journey with discipleship, loving God with my heart, soul, mind, and strength, is a lifelong endeavor.

 

If you are diving into What’s Best Next with Thrive this month, yesterday’s session was a day of many practical tips full of change – which can be challenging. But don’t give up. Take the first steps this week.

  1. Come up with a draft of your mission statement, the declaration of your core purpose that stands true even when your world falls apart.
  2. Next write down a few of your core principles that guide your life.
  3. Finally, jot down your core beliefs including the baseline principle for why you do what you do – the gospel, what God has done for us in Christ.

I can finish this post the same way I finished the guest blog for my friend:

“Bottom line – women rock. You can do this and even enjoy the process! Above all, God will be glorified as you love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. So buy some frozen dinners, brew a cup of coffee, and dive in.”

Hospitality

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My Table

A group of about 15 ladies recently wrapped up a four week study on hospitality using “Table Life: Savoring the Hospitality of Jesus in Your Home” by Joanne Thompson. This group, of which I was a member, diligently read the book and participated in lengthy weekly discussions surrounding themes Thompson presents. Every week I walked away from our fellowship full of Spirit. If you as a young mom feel spiritually empty, find a woman seasoned with wisdom and sit at her feet. If she is busy the first time you ask for a connection over coffee or seems distracted when you catch her at church, try again. Not only will you benefit from her godly advice once your schedules collide, she will be honored and encouraged knowing her experiences have an eternal, multi-generational purpose. These encounters represent God’s design for female relationships (Titus 2).

Have you ever read a book concerning a Christian discipline, felt the desire to grow in that area, and then intrinsically recognized your perspective on the subject was forever changed? This gem of a book was the catapult of just such an experience for me. As Christians, we are habitually told our life should run counterculture. But did you ever stop to consider that means even your table life at home? As Thompson points out, “the word hospitality literally means ‘to love a stranger.’ ”[1] I don’t know about you, but the strangers I meet out and about rarely receive an invitation to my home. For that matter, the people my family entertains are usually friends, people we can let our hair down with and relax. However, as followers of Christ, we are called to “Get into the practice of inviting guests home for dinner” (Romans 12:13, NLT). Hebrews 13:2 calls Christians to practice hospitality not only with fellow believers but with strangers, and 1 Peter 4:9 says we are to do so without grumbling. Weighty stuff. Why should we do so? To make disciples.

If you have been in church for long, chances are you have noticed not all those who walk an aisle, attend a new member class, or sign a church covenant make it for the long haul. The first ripples of discourse can toss them about and right out the front doors. Thompson encourages women to consider their tables as a source of reconciliation. Can you even imagine extending an invitation to someone in which there is strife and conflict in hopes God restores the relationship?

Our final week focused on the importance of acting on what we have learned, living the gospel. Another author similarly pens: “Discipleship and formation are less about erecting an edifice of Christians knowledge than they are a matter of developing a Christian know-how that intuitively ‘understands’ the world in the light of the fullness of the gospel. And insofar as an understanding is implicit in practice, the practices of Christian worship are crucial…”[2] As God is stoking the missional fire inside of me, the beauty of practicing womanhood as Paul instructed made possible invaluable instruction from a seasoned godly woman. She cautioned young moms to hold steadfast in our diligence of table life with our own families as priority. She then gave godly counsel to all women, encouraging endurance and reminding us all of the need for healthy perimeters to avoid “compassion fatigue.”[3]

The subject of hospitality is so deep in theology and in practicality that I can only skim the surface in a blog, but I leave you with a few nuggets, hoping to entice your inner student and whet your appetite for true biblical hospitality.

“Across the table, hearts made for relationships came alive.”[4]

“Wherever you live, the Lord God has designs for your kitchen table.”[5]

“A meal is not a church service, but the table remains an altar.”[6]

“Your faith community is where taking the risk of loving the stranger begins.”[7]

“The place where your table and the gospel story meet is faith…”[8]

“The age-old afflictions of perfectionism and comparison handcuff our hearts from pursuing hospitality.”[9]

“Hospitality…must flow from gospel authenticity.”[10]

“Table life is no fairy tale; it’s real, practical, and rewarding. It unites the here and now with eternity.”[11]


[1] Joanne Thompson, Table Life : Savoring the Hospitality of Jesus in Your Home (Edina, MN: Beavers Pond Press, 2011), 48.

[2] James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom : Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation, Volume 1 of Cultural Liturgies (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2009), 68.

[3] Thompson, 107.

[4] Ibid., 15.

[5] Ibid., 16.

[6] Ibid., 25.

[7] Ibid., 49.

[8] Ibid., 60.

[9] Ibid., 76.

[10] Ibid., 107.

[11] Ibid., 140.