Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Climate Conducive to Life

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says your home can be a place of grace and beauty.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Your home may be one side of a dorm room. It may be a prison cell. It may be a palace. It may be a double-wide trailer. It may be a hotel room if you live on the road as I did for many years. I’ve often said home is where you sleep at night in the years when I was traveling so much. But we can make homes out of wherever God has placed us that minister grace and the gospel and the likeness of Christ to those around us.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Monday, July 9, 2018.

In several series this year, Nancy’s been teaching point by point through the True Woman Manifesto. As we continue today, you’ll see why your home is so important to the kingdom of God. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Some of you may have seen this issue of Good Housekeeping. It came out in May of 2010. The cover article has to do with 125 women who changed our world. One of our listeners sent me a link to an article from this issue—that feature article. She pointed out something that was said about one of those women—the 125 women who changed our world—a novelist, Virginia Wolfe, who lived in the early 1900s. This article says that,

[Virginia Woolf] reminded us in A Room of One’s Own [which was one of her books] of what remarkable things women might have written throughout history if they hadn’t been too burdened by household cares and society restrictions.

Our listener who sent me this piece commented on the article. She said,

As I read it, I [was grateful] for women who had excelled and changed the world; however, I wondered what your list of 125 women who changed our lives would look like. Somehow, I’m absolutely sure that their achievements are far more lasting. I assume that your list would remind us of the incredible, lasting, powerful, and life-changing legacy women have made by sacrificing, loving, and planting life through household work and through understanding the beauty of true femininity.

Well, that reminds me of the next statement we come to in the True Woman Manifesto where it says,

We will seek to establish homes that manifest the love, grace, beauty, and order of God, that provide a climate conducive to nurturing life and that extend Christian hospitality to those outside the walls of our homes.

Today we want to talk about having life-nurturing homes, including the ministry of hospitality. The home, if you think about it, was the first institution God ever created. It is the foundational unit of society. And if the foundation is crumbling, the whole rest of the building is going to have issues.

Andrew Dixon White was the co-founder of Cornell University. He lived in the 1800s and he said,

If the time should ever come when women are not Christians and houses are not homes, then we shall have lost the chief cornerstones on which civilization rests.

Our homes are intended to be places that reflect God, that reflect the gospel. We need a vision for our homes. I think so many people are just doing life without thinking about why and what they’re doing as it relates to their families. Our homes were intended to be visible reflections of God. They were intended to be miniatures of the kingdom of God, the household of God. In fact, the Puritans saw the family as a little church within the church.

This reminds me of something I stumbled onto on the Internet the other day. It was so fascinating. There’s a British sculptor named Willard Wigan who makes detailed, microscopic miniatures. His most recent one is a miniature of an entire church. You’ll find this hard to believe, but it really is true. It’s carved out of a single grain of sand that is set inside the eye of a needle. You can’t see it with the naked eye. They have to put it under a microscope. But when you do, it’s an amazing likeness of a whole church in England—detailed.

He’s done other things, like the Statue of Liberty and famous people. He does these microscopic miniatures and people come and line up at these exhibits and displays around the world to look at these through microscopes. This is, as you might imagine, slow, painstaking work. But he said, “I want to show the world that the little things can be the biggest things.”1

Your home may seem tiny and insignificant in the whole scheme of things, but it’s intended to be a likeness, a miniature of the family of God, the household of God. Our homes speak. They send a message; they communicate what we really believe. They communicate what we believe more than what we say communicates what we believe.

So the question is, what is your home communicating? What message does it send out about what God is like? Does it manifest His love, His grace, His beauty, and His order? Does it point people to the gospel? Does it help them see their need for a Savior and make them thirsty for Christ?

Let me say, by the way, as we’re talking about home and nurturing, that single women are not excluded from this. All of us have the privilege of making homes places of grace and beauty and order. Your home may be one side of a dorm room. It may be a prison cell. It may be a palace. It may be a double-wide trailer. It may be a hotel room if you live on the road as I did for many years. I’ve often said home is where you sleep at night in the years when I was traveling so much. But we can make homes out of wherever God has placed us, that minister grace and the gospel and the likeness of Christ to those around us.

You see God is the ultimate homemaker. When we make homes, we reflect Him. We are aliens and strangers that God has welcomed into His household of faith. He is preparing a place for us in heaven, which is His eternal home. We will feast with Him there. He will be our host at that meal.

The cross itself, as Christ extended His arms on that cross, wasn’t He issuing in effect an invitation to us to live with Him, to spend eternity in His home? God is a homemaker. So we’re called to be deliberate, to be intentional about building homes that honor and glorify God.

Let me encourage especially you young wives and moms from the beginning to think about how you can make your home a welcoming, gracious, peaceable haven. First, for your husband: welcome him when he comes home from work. Sometimes we make our homes spectacular havens or places of refuge for our guests, but we treat the people inside our homes like dirt. We need to treat the people in our homes as honored, esteemed guests.

You might want to consider having one room or one part of your house that’s ready for company. It’s mostly picked up, and so you can feel comfortable to have people stop by, to bring people in, to welcome people into your home.

We want to establish homes, this part of the Manifesto says, that provide a climate conducive to nurturing life. We hear a lot of talk today about environmental concerns, climate change, pollution, how the environment affects the ability to sustain life. But I don’t think we hear nearly enough about how lives are impacted by the climate inside our homes.

That climate is affected by our attitudes, by the activities that take place in our homes and by the general atmosphere of our homes. A climate conducive to nurturing life would be a climate of order, peace, grace, unconditional love, kindness, truth, a home where we experience the reality and the presence of Christ. Where we talk about Christ. Where we talk about His Word.

We talk about the gospel with our children. Are you "gospelizing" your children? I don’t know if that’s a word, but it is now. Are you declaring the gospel to them? Or do you wait until they get to Sunday school or to their youth group and say they’ll evangelize them there? Your children need to hear you talking about the things of God as a way of life.

A home that is conducive to nurturing life is a home that is Christ-centered, it’s Word saturated. Everything relates to Him. Now to a large extent, we as women set the climate in our homes. We’re the thermostats, the ones who set the temperature. We determine what the temperature is like.

So I have to ask, what is the climate like in your home? What was the temperature when you left home today? Is it a climate that is conducive to nurturing life or does it stifle and kill life?

What stifles life? What kills life in our homes? It’s a climate of:

  • criticism
  • perfectionism
  • anger
  • selfishness
  • pride
  • contention
  • performance-based love

If that kind of climate is in your home, ask yourself, how am I contributing to that environment? Am I doing something to make the climate of our home that way with my behavior, my spirit, my actions, or my reactions?

I know we have a lot of listeners who are struggling to live with a mate who doesn’t know Christ and doesn’t honor the Lord, or children or other relatives who are not godly. Many of you have written to share that with us and to ask us to pray for you.

Let me say, you may not be able to change the behavior and the attitudes of others in your home, but by God’s grace, you can change yours. You’re not responsible for the choices of others or for how they act, but you and I are responsible for our own choices and for how we react to the actions of others.

I want to remind you that nurturing life, creating a climate conducive to nurturing life, is not a short-term task or calling. It requires time, patience, taking the long view.

Some of you are into gardening, and you know that tending flowers or plants or growing vegetables doesn’t just happen. It takes time. It takes constant work. Am I right? Care, weeding, fertilizing—an effort to nurture life. It takes being intentional. If you’re not intentional about your garden, it will get grown over and the weeds will choke out the things that you really want—the beauty, the flowers, the vegetation.

If you’re not intentional in your home about creating a climate that’s conducive to nurturing life, the weeds of selfishness and pride and rebellion will grow up and they will choke out the life in your home.

Then also just a reminder that ultimately you cannot make your children, your family, or your friends grow spiritually. You can, by God’s grace, create a climate that is conducive to nurturing life, but you can’t make them grow. God’s the one who does that. What you can do is create an environment that is conducive to their growing spiritually.

Now the Manifesto as this point says that we will create these homes. We’ll seek to establish homes that are conducive to nurturing life, and we will extend Christian hospitality to those outside the walls of our homes. Throughout the Old and New Testaments we see that God’s people were to make room in their homes and their hearts for strangers, for outsiders. They were to open their homes and their hearts.

In the New Testament we see Jesus many times sitting down at meals with publicans, with sinners, with outcasts. We see in the early church that fellowship and ministry took place in homes. Throughout the Scripture we see that Christians are called to open our hearts, our homes, and our hands to guests, to travelers, to the poor and needy, to other believers.

Christian hospitality has an incredible way of breaking down barriers, of softening hearts. It’s a tangible way to put hands and feet to sharing the gospel. Until recent times, hospitality was the normative practice throughout the history of the church.

In fact, the words hotel, hospital, and hospice all have the same etymology, or root background, as the word hospitality. And those things, hotels, hospitals, and hospices, were actually developed by Christians as a means of showing hospitality, a way of responding to specific kinds of human needs.

The problem is, we became dependent on hotels and restaurants and other forms of outside-the-home hospitality. Today it’s just become much easier to delegate hospitality to others, to just send money, so someone else can do it rather than doing it ourselves.

But I want to say that using our homes for hospitality—whatever your home is, whatever size, whatever value it has monetarily—showing hospitality in your home should not be the exception. It’s not just some believers who are great at hospitality. It should be the norm.

Now I would recognize that some people are particularly gifted at this. I think of Devi Titus who has spoken at our True Woman Conferences. She is the queen of hospitality, and she’s amazing with her hospitality. But that should not intimidate the rest of us. All of us are called to make it a part of our lifestyle. When we do, we express God’s love and God’s grace to others.

That’s what we read in 1 Peter chapter 4, verses 8–9, where the apostle says,

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Without grumbling. I can show hospitality but sometimes I’m boiling underneath because things are just not going right. I’m too harried. Without grumbling.

What’s he saying? Don’t look on it as an obligation or a duty but instead, look on it as a privilege, an opportunity to express God’s love.

He goes on to say, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace [verse 11 of 1 Peter 4] . . . whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength God supplies.” That’s how you do it. Through His strength. And why? “In order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”

We’re not talking about entertaining people. We’re talking about Christian hospitality. Now there are a lot of myths about hospitality. I think some people assume that you have to have a big, nice house. You have to use fine china and crystal. You have to compete with the Food Network. You have to have a big budget. You have to put out a fancy, lavish spread. Your home has to be immaculate. Your kids have to be perfectly behaved, and you have to be outgoing and a great conversationalist.

Let me say, those are all myths. In fact, when you focus on your house, your décor, your housekeeping, your silver, your china, that fosters a spirit of pride or self-consciousness or comparison. But when you humbly focus on Christ and on those that you’re serving, it becomes a ministry. You’re not trying impress, not trying to perform, but just opening your heart to others, expressing the love of God, sharing with others what God has given to you and welcoming others into your life.

Christian hospitality is not an event you put on the calendar. Now if you’re going to bring people home for dinner, it would be good to put it on the calendar, especially to let your mate know in advance. Discuss it together. But it’s not so much an event as it is a lifestyle, a lifestyle of sharing, giving, kindness, giving ourselves.

I’ll be the first to say that hospitality is not always easy. The first year I was in my home, we had 1,600 people come through my home. They just weren’t marching through. A lot of them spent the night, a lot of them were there for meals or for a day at a time or for Bible studies or whatever, and that’s when we were tracking how many were there.

Hospitality involves challenges and obstacles. There’s busyness. There’s fear. There’s expense. Some people are naturally more introverted and private, and I would be one of those people. It’s not natural for me to just mingle with a whole group of people. For those of us who are a little more reserved, hospitality can feel overwhelming or intimidating, but don’t let those things become excuses.

Ask God to give you the strength to serve as He promises in 1 Peter 4 that He will. Use creativity and learn from others who express gracious hospitality. Hospitality doesn’t have to be full meals. It doesn’t have to be running a bed and breakfast. It can be simple expressions of kindness, as I did last week or so—just taking out water and a snack to some kids who were working on my lawn. That’s hospitality. It’s showing grace.

It can be honoring people who come into your home with notes or with a fresh bouquet of flowers, making them feel special. Again, let me just remind you, start with your own family. Little touches. Touches of kindness will go a long way in keeping a marriage fresh and keeping your children wanting to be in your home.

Celebrating special occasions. I see Jessica here, and we had a special birthday breakfast for Jessica. I had some things going on that week. I was up late the night before, but I managed to find some time to hang up some streamers and to get a “Happy Birthday Jessica” sign put up and to have a little bit of breakfast there. It was a blessing to her. It was a blessing to me. That’s loving one another generously and graciously as God has loved us.

Meals shared in the home. They don’t have to be four-course meals. They can be simple. You can have somebody over for popcorn. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. You can prepare a meal together.

Let me encourage you with something I have found to be such a blessing. Before people leave your home, whether it’s your own family, your kids leaving for school, your husband leaving for work, or guests that you’ve had in your home for an evening, stop to pray with and for them.

I know that in a down economy it can be more difficult to extend hospitality. You just have to be a little more creative, but it also provides some opportunities for ministry as people are out of jobs, needing a place to stay. I’m just wondering how many extra bedrooms we have in our homes collectively while some people are needing a place to stay for a season of their lives, but we’re too busy.

I’ve had the great blessing over the years to have a half-dozen different young married couples at different times and a variety of students and single women who have lived in my home from anywhere from a matter of weeks to months to, in some cases, a few years. What a blessing they have been to me. And a protection as I have become an older, single woman against isolation and selfishness. They keep me adaptable and flexible. I need them there.

It’s a reminder that our homes, our houses, are not places to stockpile stuff. It is all going to burn someday. But our houses are tools for serving, for ministry, for cultivating life, for sharing grace.

When Jesus first came to this earth, He was denied hospitality. No room in the inn. Yet He came and opened His heart, His arms, His hands, His home to us. What an incredible privilege it is to us to open our homes and our hearts to others. When we do, I believe we are opening our hearts and our homes to Christ Himself.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing us the value of hospitality. Today’s program is part of a series called "The True Woman Manifesto—Declarations, Part 2." To listen to any part of that series, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy, you also explore this topic of hospitality in your book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together.

Nancy: That’s right, Leslie. This book walks through phrase by phrase that first paragraph of Titus chapter 2. In the Adorned book, I take a look at why cultivating a heart for home is an essential part of gospel living. You see, whether you are married or single, younger or older, home life is not an add-on to your relationship with God. Our homes are a foundational way we express the love of God and the beauty of the gospel.

So I want to encourage you to explore this topic of hospitality and home life for yourself by getting a copy of my book, Adorned. I’d like to send you a copy to say thank you for your donation of any size to Revive Our Hearts. In the summer months we generally see a drop in donations. So in order to continue opening God’s Word together through this program, we need support from listeners like you who believe in the ministry and want to see it reach others' lives.

Your gift today will help make it possible for us to continue calling women to live out the beauty of the gospel.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. And I’ll add one more thing. Adorned just received a Christian Book Award as the book of the year in the Bible study category. So ask for your copy of this award-winning book when you donate by phone. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com and ask for the book Adorned.

Nancy says wives need to do away with the “D” word. Find out what she means tomorrow.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping you cultivate a heart for home. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

1 http://swns.com/astonishing-miniature-church-carved-in-the-eye-of-a-needle-251240.html

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