Homebuilder’s Oct. 1, 1992
Exercising Personal Warmth and Welcome
The song entitled "There's a Welcome Here" takes me back a few years to my youth. This outstanding time of revival meetings held by Bro. John Rohrer from York County, brought personal Warmth and Welcome to us. His radiant countenance expressed deep devotion, gentle manner, sincere kindness, soft spoken voice, and a radiant smile penetrated a very sense of Warmth. Along with the memory rang the warm words of
"There's a Welcome Here",
There's a Welcome Here,
There's a Christian Welcome Here,
Hallelujah, there's a Christian Welcome Here.
Warm! How do we warm another's heart? To touch another's heart, you must use your own. Has God entrusted people to us? Have we responded to God's entrusting? To open our hearts and take God's Love to someone is a gift of our's from God to share.
To prepare us for sharing, we first of all need to have a warm heart. "Exercise" means to use habitually, practice, train, and develop. "Personal, the dictionary says, is done in person or done by oneself. "Warmth" is giving off a moderate degree of heat, vigor of feeling and enthusiasm. Welcome means to gladly and cordially receive, be free to willingly greet with pleasure. Are we able to stretch our hearts to include all of this?
The Bible says "By Love, serve one another." Gal. 5:13. "And see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently," I Peter 1:22. "Fervently" suggests a great warmth of feeling.
Have we exercised our hearts to this big measure?
Where and how do we begin to exercise and practice for this warmth? It begins when we are very small children living together in a family. Charity and warmth must begin here and be practiced. Husband and Father need to feel a personal Warmth and Welcome from their wife and family when they arrive home from a long day's work or travels. Children need to feel welcomed also when they come home from school.
I love the story of an older woman who had friends at her house. Upon hearing her husband returning home from work, she excused herself with these words, "Pardon me for a moment while I go to greet my husband, Andrew, I never like him to return without a "Welcome." Through years of marriage, now stretching into autumn of life and through thousands of homecomings this woman had preserved her spirit of greeting. What a warm relationship had evolved over the years! What precious Warmth and Welcome to share and exercise. What beauty to hand on to the next generation.
Children need to count on the same warmth of feeling and welcome when arriving home. they need to hear that cheery voice "It's good to have you home." If our homes are not filled with gentle, kind considerations of love and warmth, the cherishing moments of love and understanding will be most difficult to extend the gift beyond our door.
Home is a supernatural ministry when combined with righteous living, bathed in prayer, and dedicated to the Lord. It can be used by God beyond anything we ask or think.
The Bible indicated that Christians be rooted in a warm personal relationship. A design for open-heartedness to all people. We need to open our hearts and homes, not as the world, who thinks mainly of entertaining friends or "now is my chance to demonstrate my skills and show off the quality of my home." Entertaining in this fashion has little to do with real Warmth and Welcome. Secular entertaining is a terrible bondage. Its source is human pride, demanding perfection, fostering the urge to impress with my beautiful home, my clever decorating and gourmet cooking.
Christian character, however, expresses Warmth and Welcome through ministering. It says this home isn't mine - it is a gift from God, my Master. I am His servant and I am; here to be used of God. Christian Warmth expressed does not try to impress, but by love serves others. Servant hood begins in our heart. A servant never puts things before people. Such as the saying goes, "As soon as my house is finished, decorated, or housecleaned, then I will think of sharing my heart and home." A spirit of Christian Warmth will put people before things. If we work hard to keep people from recognizing our weak points, we also prevent them from loving us in our weakness.
Today, I put away pride when I opened the door to accept those standing there as they are. Consequently, I expect them to accept me as they find me. I welcomed the woman at my door with warmth and love, inviting her in, yes, into the unsightly rooms and refused to embarrass her with my apologies. I consciously let go of my pride and was rewarded with the amazing words, "I used to think you were a perfect perfectionist, but I see we can become friends." I needed to learn, I needed to be a caretaker of people.
All of us have a heart, the Spirit is seeking to move with things that move the heart of God. Therefore the challenge arises - are we exercising, training, and developing the desire of perfection in Christ, that is to develop our own hearts so that the Spirit can seek to move things that move the heart of God. The challenge is ours- Remember- to touch another's heart, we must use our own.
There is a place for perfectness, not in our fleshly desire, but wanting what moves the heart of God. We need to exercise our hearts to be one in the perfectness of our Father. Again- it becomes a very personal matter. Matthew 5:48 - "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
What perfection has our Father shown to us? In Matthew 5:46-48, Jesus teaches, If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brother, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans the same? Be therefore perfect- as your Father.
Are we willing to let the spirit move us and be willing to love as Jesus loved? He loved with an everlasting love, not for the lovely only, but for the unlovely as well. What better example to follow, develop, and exercise.
We need to open wide our heart, take our hands out of our pockets of pride and self-will. Warmth and Welcome can then begin! That's perfection!
Our hearts need to be stretched in Christ's love to be able to reach out to the lonely in heart, the starving for friendship, the elderly, the person without Christ, the suffering one with marriage struggles and family problems. It needs to be stretched and stretched to meet the down and out, the prisoner, "the stranger that is within thy gate", the spiritually struggling one.
Is there any room left in our heart to give? To share? To love? To encourage? Or do we let room for gossip? For evil thoughts? For hatred? Or even just a little spite against someone? There is no room if Jesus is in control of our heart to touch someone, to build up, to encourage, to love, to welcome!
Our Warm Welcome needs to spill over into our everyday living, out on the job, in school, in pleasant situations and unpleasant situations.
Phil. 1:9-11, "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ; being filled with fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ.
Phil. 2:3, "Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."
Does my heart need stretching to share warmth? While at the home of a prominent Pharisee, Jesus noticed how the guests chose the best seats. He told a parable found in Luke 14:7-14. Jesus gave a solution to the problem of playing favorites. He said when you have dinner, don't invite your best friends, your brother, or relatives or your rich neighbor, if you do, they will just invite you back and you will be repaid. So when you have a meal, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and blind, and you will be blessed. You will be paid at the resurrection of the righteous.
James wrote in James 2:1-4, 8&9, don't show favor by showing special warmth to the man wearing fine clothes , and say, "Sit here, it's the best seat. And say to the poor, "You sit over there." But listen, "Hath not God chosen the poor of the world, the rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
Jim Long, a new Christian, just released from prison, groping for identity, visited a church he didn't feel welcome in. His response to this was, "If people don't want to welcome us, maybe they'll need the "Welcome" off their church sign. What does your church sign say to the passer-by? Are we as people of God and our church signs saying the same thing? What do we have to offer to the newcomer? to the visitor? Do we portray a promise of Christ's love? acceptance? forgiveness? belonging? identity? fellowship? security? purpose? Are we reaching out to touch another's heart with our own?
Five times the New Testament Christians were encouraged to greet one another! I Peter 5:14, "Greet one another with a Kiss of Charity." Romans 16:16, "Salute one another with an Holy Kiss." I Corinthians 16:20, "All the brethren greet you." II Corinthians 13:12, "All the saints salute you- greet one another with a Holy Kiss." How do we relate to one another in our church services? Here again we can exercise Personal Warmth and Welcome.
Little Susie worried about going to church on Sunday because it was a strange church to her. She didn't know anyone. Mother said Susie was to smile to the people she didn't know, even if they just looked and looked at her. "We don't made friends if we're not friendly. Prov. 18:24, 'He that hath friends, must show himself friendly'." When they got to church, Mother saw tears in Susie's eyes. She was afraid to go to a new Sunday School. Mother said, "I wish for you to go to Sunday School, because I think you will enjoy it. Just then a lady tapped Mother's shoulder. "I'll take your little girl to class," she said. Susie looked up to see who was saying those kind words. The lady looked almost like her grandma, so Susie took her hand and together they went to Susie's class. The kind lady got a chair and sat down beside Susie. Soon Susie was looking at a book just like the one in her own class at home. Susie felt good. So the kind lady said she would go to her own class and then come back for Susie. Susie didn't feel funny anymore because the lady was so kind to her. It warmed Susie's heart. The kind lady, that looked almost like grandma, felt warm too, because her heart had made another heart glad.
The church service ended and Sister Mary headed for the door to go home. When she was met by Brother David, he asked her this question, "Did you talk to that visitor in there?" Sister Mary rather hesitantly replied, "Oh, no, I didn't. I thought about it, but, no, I didn't." Bro. David's reply was, "Would you please go meet her, because she was here one time before and I heard she made the remark only one person talked to her then." So Mary went back and found the visitor very interesting to talk to. When Mary headed for the door this time, her heart was rejoicing. She had found a new friend ... a special blessing sent from God she almost missed. Do we need more Bro. David’s to prod us on to help us share Warmth and Welcome? "A friend loveth at all times." Are we stretching our hearts? Are we exercising Personal Warmth and Welcome?
Many of the barriers we erect against visitors are unconscious. We may want to help people feel at home, but we don't know how. Do we feel uneasy when it comes to forming new relationships? Can we easily push it off to another whom we think is better qualified to meet strangers and visitors?
Our churches can be filled with strangers and sojourners. Our homes and lives of our congregations can be closed to one another. Emphasis on things and pride can build gaps more than it builds bridges. We can become powerless to tell one another who we are, what we believe, our faith in Christ, our love for Him, our submission and obedience to God's will for our lives, our concerns and cares. We could become cold and indifferent to one another.
Thank the Lord for the church who has been begotten of the Father through the New Birth, belonging to each other in a unique way. We need each other. The writer in Hebrews understood that when he wrote, "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Heb. 10:24&25. May we use our own heart to exhort one another as we assemble together. Keep stretching, open wide, reach out and touch someone's heart with your Christian Love. Warm hospitality is more than a human talent- it is a gift of the Holy Spirit to share.
Personal Warmth and Welcome Exercises
1. Be very careful about being too busy.
2. Get rid of the lame excuses that come so easy.
3. Always have enough to share.
4. Don't be intimidated and discouraged by interruptions.
5. Give a warm welcome, it is the beginning of gracious hospitality.
6. Gladly receiving.
7. Have a warm smile and hearty handshake.
8. Announce a stranger's presence to others around us by way of introduction.
9. Have guests know we are honored by their presence.
10. Show love by being relaxed.
11. Show respect.
12. Have and lend a listening ear.
13. Be kind, in honor preferring one another.
14. Our warm welcome will help us achieve the goals of becoming more effective in building up one another in the faith and in the body of Christ.
15. Put people above things.
16. Put peoples' needs above our convenience.
17. True warmth begins with an attitude that springs into action.
18. Use Scripture as an example to best develop these spiritual gifts.
19. Bring your gifts and hospitality into loving commitment to God who Himself reached out in love and warmth.
20. Always be ready to serve.
21. Look to God for guidance and help.
22. Use the Bible principle in greeting. I Peter 5:14 23. Be in prayer for those we meet.
24. Have fervent charity.
25. To touch someone's heart, you must use your own.
Anna Mae Lehman