Helpful Tips When Preparing for Guests

Being a good hostess does not require a formal education, but it is helpful to know a few basic tips. Some of the following tips I have learned by trial and error.

Several years ago, my husband and I became stewards of a large home. After we moved in, I was so excited about having the room to entertain, I invited twelve pastors and their wives over for dinner.  Since I had moved from a house that had one bathroom to a house that five bathrooms, I did not bother to check the supplies in each bathroom. During the evening, a distinguished pastor sheepishly had to come to me to ask for toilet paper…number 1 rule…make sure all your bathrooms have plenty of toilet paper, hand soap, and air freshener.

  •  Supply feminine products to guests by putting those items in a pretty box or bag and place on the back of toilet.
  • Clean house before guests arrive. Do not rush around cleaning parts of house while guests are there.
  • Chill drinks and make extra ice.
  • Arrange furniture to maximize seating for everyone.
  • Make sure table is set before guests arrive.

 Overnight Guests

 Overnight guests can sometimes feel uncomfortable being in an unfamiliar room. Try to make your guest room as comfortable as possible.

 Items Needed for a Guest Room

  •  A clean bed with extra bedding
  • An iron and ironing board
  • A comfortable reading chair
  • A good lamp and good selection of books
  • A good mirror
  • A clock
  • A box of tissue
  • A small sewing kit
  • A small trash can
  • A good supply of plastic hangers in the closet
  • A writing desk with pens, pencils, paper, scissors, and envelopes
  • A power strip for guests to plug in cell phones and other electronic devices
  • An index card with the code for wireless internet placed in desk drawer.
  • A welcome packet with information about the area
  • A folding luggage rack (this makes a convenient place for a guest to put his suitcase) 

Tips to Make Overnight Guests Feel Special

  • Leave a welcome gift and note.
  • Leave two Hershey kisses or Mint Patties on pillows.
  • Have a basket of fresh fruit, two stemmed glasses, and two bottles of water.
  • Keep a snack tray available in the kitchen. This tray could include microwave popcorn, oatmeal bars, and individual bags of peanuts, hot chocolate mixes, and herbal teas.
  • If your guest room is large enough, keep a compact fridge and stock it with waters, sodas, juices, and other snack items.
  • If your guests have to share a bathroom, you might keep large terrycloth bathrobes in the closet.
  • Place a TV with a DVD player and inspirational DVDs in guest room.
  • Place a stuffed animal on a child’s bed to make him feel more secure.

 Tips for Supplying a Guest Bath

When preparing for a guest bath, think about things that you might find in a nice hotel or an upscale Bed and Breakfast. You find nice plump towels, great toiletries, and fresh, clean smells.

Items Needed for a Guest Bath 

  • Towels and washcloths
  • Extra toilet paper and tissues
  • Disposable cups
  • Fresh soap
  • Extra toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Body lotion and moisturizer
  • Shampoo, conditioner, hair spray
  • Deodorant
  • New toothbrushes ,toothpaste, mouthwash
  • Waste basket
  • Air freshener
  • Razors
  • Bubble bath or bath oil (always a special treat)
  • Plunger under the sink
  • Night light

You might also consider keeping common medicines such as aspirin, anti-diarrheal pills, acid reducers, and a first-aid kit in your guest bath.

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Outreach Ideas for Small Churches

35  Outreach Ideas for Small Churches

  1. Sponsor a school or classroom
  2.  Annual revivals
  3. Christian-Family movie night
  4. Neighborhood dinner
  5. Community festival
  6. Halloween alternative
  7. Honor community heroes
  8. Christmas play
  9. Community garden
  10. Buy school supplies for poor children
  11. Parents’ night out or Mother’s morning out
  12. Homecoming…invite former members back
  13. Recognize veterans and military
  14. VBS
  15. Community thanksgiving service
  16. Church day camp (Good soul-winning and training tool for children)
  17. Day trips for senior citizens
  18. Senior adult programs, lunch
  19. Church yard sale
  20. Free carwash
  21. Host English as a second language class or a computer training class
  22. Grief ministry (Check obituaries and deliver baskets with goodies and a pastor’s letter)
  23. Grandparents day
  24. Mother’s day and Father’s day
  25. Church Anniversary
  26. Nursing home ministry
  27. Report card rewards and recognition
  28. Lock in or lock out
  29. Door-to-door food collection for community food bank (Good way to hand out tracts)
  30. Christmas parties for seniors, kids, families, target groups
  31. Volunteer recognition (Could be for church volunteers or community volunteers)
  32. Addiction programs
  33. Single adult or single parent programs
  34. Neighborhood inventories and assessments
  35. Prayer ministry

Jelly Bean Story

 Little jelly beans, tell a story true
A tale of our Father’s love –
Just for you and me.
Green is for the waving palms
Red is for His precious blood
Black is for the sin He washed from your soul and mine
White is for our hearts now clean from sin
Purple’s for the sadness of His family and friends
And Yellow is for the glory of the day He rose again.
Now you’ve heard the story, you know what each color means.
The story of our Father’s love told by some jelly beans.
So every morning take a bean, they’re really very yummy.
Something for the soul, you see, and something for the tummy.

If you need coloring pages and stories for Resurrection Sunday check out http://ministry-to-children.com/childrens-ministry-links-for-easter/. This is a great resource for Sunday School lessons, coloring pages, video clips, etc.

Strongholds That Hinder Our Prayers

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

The word translated “strongholds” in this passage also means “fortresses or to make firm.” Just like military forts are established in firm places such as hilltops, Satan attempts to establish strong forts in our minds to hold our thoughts captive.

Paul defines strongholds as arguments, pretensions, or thoughts that set themselves against the knowledge of God. Any beliefs entrenched in our own thinking that are contrary to God’s revealed truth are Satan’s strongholds. It is these strongholds that hinder  our prayers.

Satan’s strongholds fill our minds with fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and failure. They are thoughts that tell us there is no hope for our current situation so why should I bother to pray…not even God can help me out of this mess. It is these strongholds that make us doubt God and His power.

Consider these strongholds and Scriptures to counter attack these thoughts:

• My husband is hopeless. He’ll never change. 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

• I’m just a carnal person. I’ll never be free from lust. Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

• I’m getting older…I feel so useless.  Feebleness and disease are inevitable. Psalms 103:5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

STRONGHOLDS in our minds are formed three ways.

1. Arguments contrary to the knowledge of God: These are not usually arguments with other people but are battles in our minds that we come to conclusions by our own reasonings.

2. Pretensions contrary to the knowledge of God: These can happen when we exalt our own reasoning over God’s Word  and depend on our own way of thinking.

3. Thoughts contrary to the knowledge of God: These are the thoughts that we allow Satan to plant into our minds to deceive us into thinking that those thoughts are our own thoughts…but, in reality, they are thoughts against God’s will.

These strongholds are formed by:

• Reasoning a situation in my life without looking to God for guidance.
• Drawing my own conclusions without consulting God’s Word for validation.
• Justifying my situations above God’s revealed will in Scripture.
• Devising a scheme to handle my situation that is contrary to God’s will.

These strongholds can hinder our prayer lives by turning us into double-minded people. We, on one hand, profess to live by God’s Word, yet at other times, we allow our lives to be directed by our own reasonings. We pray, “Lord, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” yet in our mind, we are considering Plan B by using our own reasonings…just in case God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we think He should.

Neil Anderson says, “Double-mindedness determines to have a Plan B of human reasoning to fall back on in case the Plan A of God’s revealed will doesn’t come through. As long as we hold a Plan B in reserve, we’re not able to pray with faith and confidence for God’s Plan A to come through. Double-mindedness leads to instability and weakness and makes us unstable in our faith and ineffective in our prayers. Much is at stake when we try to embrace God’s agenda without letting go of our own.”

Our strongest weapon to break a stronghold in our minds is to use God’s Word. I love how Jesus always used God’s Word to defeat the devil in the wilderness. Jesus listened to each of Satan’s reasons. With each reason Satan gave, Jesus refuted them with the Word of God.

James gives us four steps to destroy strongholds in our minds:
James 4:7-8. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

First Step: I must submit to God’s will and acknowledging His Will in my life.

Second Step: I must resist Satan and expose his lies by using God’s Word.

Third Step: I must draw near to God in worship. When I draw near to God in worship and resist the devil, two things will happen: God’s Will becomes clearer to me, and Satan’s strongholds become weaker.

Fourth Step: I must cleanse and purify my heart. How? By asking God to show me any way that I have used my own reasonings and been double minded. Then ask for His forgiveness for not depending on His guidance and His Word. By doing this, I can confidently enter God’s Presence with a clean heart and a single mind to pray and to worship Him.

God’s Timing Is Not Always Our Timing

Have you ever felt as if God was not answering your prayers the way you told Him to answer them and at the exact time that you told Him to answer them?

God promises to give us the desires of our hearts but not always according to our time table. We must not rush God and leave the timing with Him.

God has a plan for each one of His children, and He wants what is best for them. He always answers prayers in three ways … No … Yes… and… Not at this time. Sometimes we must wait before God gives us the desires of our hearts. It is our human nature to want to rush things up for God and do things in our own strength.

The following story is a great illustration about how a little boy tried to help the caterpillar become a butterfly.

One day a little boy was playing outdoors and found a caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. His mother agreed he could keep it if he promised to take good care of it.
The little boy got a large jar, placed plants in it for the caterpillar to eat, and put a stick in it for the caterpillar to attach itself. Every day the boy watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.
One day the caterpillar climbed on the stick and started acting strangely. The boy anxiously called his mother. She watched the caterpillar for a minute and then explained to her son that the caterpillar was making a cocoon, and it was going through a metamorphosis to become a butterfly.

The boy watched the changes of the caterpillar with amazement. Thinking it was taking too long and too much of a struggle for the butterfly to emerge, the boy took a pair of scissors and snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger. The butterfly quickly came out of its cocoon, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings and had to spend the rest of its life crawling around like this, and it was never able to fly.

Sadly, the boy learned that it was necessary for the butterfly to struggle to get out of its cocoon. It was during this struggling process that the butterfly pushed fluid out of its body and into its wings. If the butterfly didn’t go through that struggle, it would never be able to fly. This boy’s intentions were good, but his helping hurt the butterfly.

Consider Joseph and how God worked in his life. Every step of the way in Joseph’s life..in the pit…in the prison, and in Potipher’s palace, God was working out His perfect will. God needed a man in place to accomplish His perfect will at His perfect time. Think about Esther! God put her in a position of influence at the exact time to save her people.

Many times we want things in our lives that might hurt us. Because God knows us and knows what is best for us at the exact time, we must be patient and wait for His perfect timing. We must give God a chance to work and to work by His exact timing.

Poem: The Unanswered Prayer

Years ago, I remember praying, “Lord, make me more like You.”   Although I didn’t realize it at the time, God began sending deep trials to our family and church. I remember thinking, “Why, Lord?”  It was not until  reading this poem  during my Quiet Time  that I began to understand the purpose of those trials. God was just answering my prayer, “Lord, make me more like You.”

The Unanswered Prayer
She asked to be made like her Savior;
He took her right at her word,
And sent her a heart crushing burden
That the depths of her soul was stirred.

She wanted a meek lowly spirit—
The work He gave answered that cry,
Till some who had once been companions,
With a pitying smile passed her by.

She asked to lean hard on the Savior,
He took the human props quite away,
Till no earthly friend could give comfort
And she could do nothing but pray.

She had prayed to be made like the Savior,
And the burdens He gave her to bear
Had been but the great  Sculpter’s teaching;
To help answer her earnest prayer.

—- Publisher Unknown

 

Help Your Children Make Good Choices

Part of your job as a parent is to help your children learn to make wise choices. This is not always easy for you or for them, because, even as adults, we still make poor decisions. Many parents think that you should make all your children’s decisions for them. The problem with that method is these children will go to their peers and to get their opinions…which usually leads to them to making very poor choices.

Because children are impulsive and make choices before they thoroughly think through the consequences, it is important to teach them how to make right choices.

Here are a few tips which could help you as you teach your children to make right choices for themselves.

• Instruct him to carefully think through his choice before he makes a quick decision.
• Sit down one on one with your child and discuss his options before he makes the decision.
• Use God’s Word to discuss the outcomes of both decisions.
• Pray with your child asking the Lord to give him wisdom to make the right choice.
• Encourage your child to always pray before he makes a choice about a decision he is facing.
• Hold your child responsible for his poor choices. If you bail him when he makes a poor choice, he will learn that there are no consequences for the bad choices he makes.

Our Future Is in His Hands

Sometimes when we approach a new year, we begin to have crippling fears. “What if my husband dies this year? What if I get cancer? What if my children rebel? What if I lose my job? What if a terrorist strikes our area? What if the election doesn’t go the right way?” “What if…?” Those questions only generate fears.

Should we really be that concerned about the “what ifs of life” or should we be more concerned about focusing on the facts of God’s Word? God commands us to think on things that are true and real…our “what if thoughts” are not facts, and they are not true! We must never forget that our future is in God’s hands, and that He is a loving, sovereign, and merciful God. When the time comes that we must deal with those unexpected events of our lives, He will be there to comfort us and help us deal with them.  If we truly believe this, we must rid our minds of the “what ifs” and fill them with the facts of God’s Word.

Philippians 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Of course, we should always be ready for unexpected events, but we shouldn’t waste our time and energy worrying about the “what ifs”. These are fears that are not real and may never come to pass.
Instead of dwelling of the “what ifs” this year…

• Acknowledge God’s presence, His power, and His love.
• Remember that God knows and allows the events you might encounter. (Psalm 139:1-4)
• He will never send anything to your life that is not for your good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)
• He will never abandon you no matter what happens. (Matthew 28:20)
• He will guide you throughout all the events of your life and then receive you into glory.

Psalms 73:24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

Consequences of a Critical Spirit

The Consequences and Cure for a Critical Spirit written by Terrie Chappell April 11, 2015

I enjoy cooking, finding recipes, and sharing new meals with my family and guests who visit our home. Because of my love for cooking, I get especially excited when I have the opportunity to visit a restaurant that I have read about or seen advertised. And, if I happen to have the chance to eat at one of these restaurants, I always look to see what the critics have said about the food, décor, and overall dining experience.

Several years ago, my husband and I were in the New York area, and we went to a restaurant that came highly recommended by all food critics who had eaten there. I was eagerly anticipating the meal and couldn’t wait to share this fun experience with my husband. But, much to my disappointment, while our meal wasn’t exactly terrible, it was definitely underwhelming. I left a little disappointed in the restaurant and its critics.

A couple of years later, I was with my husband on the West Coast, and we had the opportunity to visit another restaurant that had been featured in magazines and news clips. Again, I was excited, and I sent a text to one of my daughters, letting her know that we would be able to visit. She replied that she was glad for me, but warned that the critics’ reviews weren’t very good and told me not to get my hopes up.

I tried to prepare my expectations for what was to come as we walked into the restaurant. But, we were pleasantly surprised when the food we ordered was amazing! Every bite was delightful and the entire experience—from décor to dessert—was overwhelmingly positive.

I learned a lesson that day: you can’t always trust the critics. And while it is easy to point out the faulty critics in our lives, sometimes it’s much harder to admit when we have our own critical spirit. And, it’s even harder to acknowledge when our criticism is false and hurtful.

Criticism is a problem in the lives of a lot people, but sadly, it is a struggle among many Christians, as well.

A critical spirit is wrong because it carries with it a sense of pride and superiority (Luke 18:14). Also, it is often a cover up for my own heart issues (Jeremiah 17:9).

The following are a few truths I’ve learned (and am doing my best to implement!), as I’ve studied the consequences and the cure for criticism in our lives:

1. Criticism hinders my relationship with others.
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.—Proverbs 15:1

2. Criticism hurts others.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.—Matthew 7:3–5

3. Criticism hurts me.
When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.—Proverbs 11: 2

4. Criticism hinders my relationship with God.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:—Psalm 66:18

5. Criticism stops God’s blessing in my life.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.—Proverbs 28:13

Those consequences are eye opening! A critical spirit hurts every relationship in my life, including my relationship with God. So, how can I address it and change for God’s glory?

1. Search my heart.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.—Psalm 139:23–24

2. Confess my sin.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.—Proverbs 28:13

3. Change my thinking.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:—Philippians 2:5

While food restaurant critics get a pass when they are wrong, you and I will give an account to God for our critical spirit. So, let’s admit when we’ve been wrong, ask God for forgiveness, and then determine to have the mind of Christ—a mind of humility and deference.

Encouraging Others through Hospitality

Hospitality Is a Tremendous Tool for Encouragement and Edification  written by Terrie Chappell  June 20, 2014

One of my first official attempts at gracious hospitality came early in our family’s ministry, and it was not what I imagined it would be. My husband had just started a couples’ class, and he was so excited the Sunday our first visiting couple attended church. Imagine my shock when, right in the middle of class, he invited them over to our home for lunch!

I was expecting our second child and was not feeling very pleasant or hospitable. We also did not have any food at home! (In fact, I was praying someone would have us over for Sunday lunch that day!) By the time our class was over, I was convinced that he had not been serious in his invitation.

As we walked home from church, I reached for my husband’s hand and said, “I’m so glad you were teasing about having people over today.” It was when he assured me that he was not joking that I looked behind my shoulder and saw the visiting couple following us to our apartment.

I quickly began to formulate a plan. The closest store was a 7-Eleven on the corner of our street, and we only had seven dollars. I ran to the 7-Eleven with the little money we had and bought a package of spaghetti noodles, a can of green beans, and a half gallon of ice cream. So, our big Sunday afternoon meal and my first debut in hospitality consisted of buttered noodles, green beans, and ice cream. To my surprise, the couple joined the church the next Sunday! (I think it was the ice cream!)

Hospitality is a wonderful opportunity to encourage others in the Lord! First Peter 4:9 admonishes us, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” Why don’t you take some time this summer to be a blessing to others in this way, and do so with a joyful spirit? Here a few quick reminders that may help:

• Your meal doesn’t have to be fancy. There are many affordable and fun options (popcorn, ice cream, brownies, etc).
• Your home doesn’t have to be perfect. If you wait until you have every upgrade or decorative item on your wish list, you may never have anyone over!
• Once the food has been served, focus on your guests and enjoy your fellowship with them.
• Ask for help! If you do have a more extensive menu planned, recruit help. It gives others the opportunity to serve and be a part.
• Don’t stress. Be thankful for the privilege of Christian fellowship and savor the time spent with God’s people.

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