4 Ways to Host on a Budget

What does it mean to be hospitable?

I think for many people the idea of being hospitable means we must be able to craft a beautiful meal and have a picture-perfect home that could be featured on HGTV.

When that’s our standard it’s easy to see why so many people are hesitant to open their homes and host people.

The truth is, hospitality has very little to do with the food or the state of your home. There are no set rules for what this is supposed to look like. We’re simply called to love the people in front of us with what God has given us, be it little or much.

So, what if it’s little?

I know many of us truly desire to serve people in our homes but are working with tight budgets that can make the whole idea feel stressful.

If that’s you don’t worry! There are inexpensive and practical ways to welcome people into your home without breaking your budget.

Here are four budget-friendly ideas that can easily aid you as a host:

1. Make a Plan

Being hospitable isn’t something that happens automatically, it’s something you must choose to be intentional about. I’m not a natural planner, but I’ve come to learn that if I don’t plan to spend intentional time with friends and neighbors, it will never happen. Our schedule will fill up or we will be “too tired,” when the time comes.

A few years ago, my husband and I sat down and made a list of the people we hoped to share a meal with that year. We looked at our calendar to see what nights of the week we routinely had available and committed to keep those nights open, dedicating one night a week to inviting someone to share a meal with us. Planning ahead helped us create regular rhythms of hospitality in our home, and also helped in budgeting time and resources accordingly. 

2. Allow Others to Contribute

One of the first things people tend to ask when someone has invited them to their home is “what can I bring?” Often we respond with “Nothing! Just bring yourself!”

That may seem like the most hospitable way to respond, but, by not allowing others to contribute, you are putting more of the burden on yourself while also denying your guests an opportunity to serve you. Simply let guests, who offer, bring something you know they can easily go grab at the store. If you are planning to have a larger group of people over, share the cost by planning a meal in which everyone can easily contribute. Make a list of all the things people can bring to complete the meal.

Remember, the whole point of the meal is not just eating, but creating an opportunity to spend time with people you love. When you allow others to contribute, not only will it cost you less, but it will save you time, and everyone sharing the meal will be blessed.

3. Be Prepared for the Unexpected

While many opportunities to be hospitable are centered around a planned meal, there can be times that demand spontaneity. You could get a phone call from a friend who just needs to come over and talk, or a neighbor may stop by for a quick chat. Maybe it’s a hot day and you notice your mail carrier would benefit from a cold bottle of water, or perhaps your house is the hub for all the neighbor kids, which means they will probably eat all your food too. It’s good to be prepared for little moments like these with small things on hand to offer.

It could be as simple as keeping your fridge stocked with bottles of water, having extra coffee on hand, or stashing break and bake cookie dough in the freezer just in case.

I also always include one meal I know will feed more than just my family of five. The weeks we don’t end up having people over we get good leftovers. But if we do host, we know there is a meal in the refrigerator ready to share. It’s a win-win all around!

4. Be Yourself

Our lives and homes don’t have to be in perfect order to invite others in. If you wait until everything is just right, you will likely wait forever.

When people see that you have unfinished dishes and dirty laundry in your house and you ordered take out instead of cooking, they aren’t going to judge you, and they aren’t going to wish they hadn’t come over.

Instead, they’ll breathe a sigh of relief knowing you are a real person, just like them. In fact, when you’re truly yourself and let people into your life (your REAL life), it dissipates a lot of pressure and allows for genuine community to flourish.

Being a good host does not mean you need to pay someone to clean your house within an inch of perfection or that you should spend a week’s grocery budget on fine wine and a lavish meal.

When you let go of what the world (and Pinterest) tells you your home should look like and just be who you are — who God created you to be — then your table will begin to look more and more like Jesus’ table which was never so much about the table, but rather who sat around it.

 

So, here’s the moral of the story: you can do this!

And I hope you will!

In the end, few people will remember the quality of that cup of coffee or how perfectly put together your house was. What they won’t forget is the way you opened your doors, welcomed them into your home, and nourished their souls.


 

111: Hospitality — A Conversation with Dave & Carla Vanderweide

As Christians, we are called to care for the poor and the widows, to love our enemies and our neighbors, and to serve one another with the love of Christ. One of the ways we do that is by inviting people in and making them feel welcome whether that’s through inviting them into our homes, sharing a meal around a table, or even inviting them to a rock concert. On this episode, Jon Coffey talks with East 96 Campus Elder Dave Vanderweide and his wife Carla about how they use their time, talent, and treasures for the kingdom of God, how that doesn’t look the same for everyone, and how God uses us in different ways in the different seasons of our lives.

Resources:

Table Talk: When Faith Meets Food — Week 2

 

 

Blessed Are You Who Are Poor

A major theme found throughout the Bible is God’s concern for the poor and his anger at the rich’s complicity in their oppression and abuse. We see this concern in the laws of Moses (see Leviticus), in the prophets (see Amos), and directly from Jesus in the Gospels.

The simple fact is that wealth can really mess people up.

Multiple studies have shown that those who see themselves as more wealthy or powerful than the average person behave in ways that show a lack of concern or even (in the worst cases) malevolence toward those who are poorer or less powerful than they are. The Bible’s concern for protecting the poor from the rich is merited!

In Luke 6:17-49 Jesus expounds on what it looks like to live in the kingdom of God. In Luke 6:20 Jesus begins this teaching by saying, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” This statement comes at the beginning of what is traditionally called “the beatitudes,” a list of blessings Jesus proclaims over those who are poor, those who are hungry, those who weep, and those who are hated because they follow Jesus.

In Luke’s presentation of the beatitudes, Jesus also proclaims a series of corresponding “woes,” saying, “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation, woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep,” (Luke 6:24-26).

What is Jesus trying to tell us?

The real issue at hand is not about having wealth. Some of Jesus’ followers certainly had wealth, and some of them were so wealthy they were able to financially support Jesus and his ministry.

It seems the issue has more to do with desiring wealth, or worse, loving wealth (see Paul’s discussion of wealth in 1 Timothy 6). Desiring and loving wealth are bright red, flashing danger signs warning that wealth has become an idol. Jesus’ warnings to the wealthy come from a place of concern and love. He is showing us that idols enslave. Through idolatry, both God and neighbor are forgotten, and even despised. We cannot serve and love God while serving and loving an idol. We cannot not serve and love God while neglecting our neighbor.

Thankfully, Jesus offers hope to those trapped in idolatry.

Luke 18 records a conversation between Jesus and a “rich ruler.” At the end of this conversation, the rich ruler goes away sad, and Jesus makes the comment, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” Those nearby asked Jesus, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.”

For those who have let the idolatry of wealth creep into their hearts, or any other idol for that matter, the sacrifice, humility, and love of Jesus not only saves us from the punishment we deserve but transforms us into a people who look more like Jesus himself. Through his Spirit we are able to love and live as God calls us – as a citizen of his kingdom, no matter where we started.

One of the ways we can show our residency in the kingdom of God is through being generous. This was Jesus’ advice to the rich ruler. Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor.

For Christians today, generosity is a spiritual discipline that keeps us from becoming attached to our wealth and ensures we do not neglect the poor. Generosity as spiritual discipline is part of God’s work of sanctification in our lives.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

— 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Go and be generous!


 

106: Is Being Rich a Sin?

During the series Salty: Sticking Out for the Right Reasons, we’re discussing questions related to each message on our podcast. On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen, Yancey Arrington, and Aaron Lutz discuss the questions: Is being rich a sin? What warnings are given to the rich in the Bible?

 

 

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Being the Church

As far as Josh Fasske knew, it was going to be another long and cold work night driving around the greater League City area.

The last few days had passed like a whirlwind for him and his wife, Brittani, owners of Grand Slam Plumbing, a small business they started in 2017. As Winter Storm Uri wreaked havoc in League City, Josh and his small crew worked long days and nights and even into the early hours of the morning to restore running water to their customers.

They were already slammed just a few days into the storm, and Josh was exhausted physically and mentally. Not only was he working around the clock to help panicked customers, but he and his wife and young children were displaced from their apartment as their building went without electricity and running water.

It was on such a night the week of the storm that Josh received a welcome surprise from fellow church member, Vijay Rajaji.

“I was at a job in Seabrook,” Josh recalled. “When Vijay got there, he sent me a text that said ‘Hey, come outside.’ I saw it and thought he sent it to the wrong person, so I called him. He said ‘Hey, come outside. I’ve got something for you.’”

Vijay had brought Josh food.

“Not just food,” Josh said, “it was a warm meal, which I wasn’t getting a whole lot of.”

Before Vijay left, he told Josh, “If you’re out and about, I’m going to be out and about. However long you’re doing this, I’m going to be bringing you food every night.”

And Vijay kept his promise.

 

***

 

Years ago, Sonia and Vijay Rajaji experienced one of the most traumatic events of their lives. Their first child, Maya, was born premature, just shy of 26 weeks gestation. She spent the next three-and-a-half months in the NICU and the remainder of her first year at home under strict guidelines in order to avoid any communicable illnesses.

Sonia and Vijay were fairly new believers attending Clear Creek Community Church. Neither had been raised in families that invited other people into their personal lives, but this new church life was challenging all that they understood about community. For five months, the people of Clear Creek — a few friends, but mostly strangers — brought meals to the Rajajis three times a week in order to serve them and help them get through that tough season.

“I thought we didn’t need it,” Sonia recalled. “I didn’t understand how meals help. After I came out of that season and out of the shock, I realized this is what church family is all about. This is about serving people even when they don’t think they need it. And it’s hard to take help.”

“That was the thing that really changed me,” Vijay added. “When you’re a new believer, you pick up everything by osmosis. You say what people say, you do what people do, and you think that’s the baseline. And so, because we were so new, my expectation became if you’re going through something, the church takes care of you, period. That’s just the expectation.”

Maya thrived, and Sonia and Vijay continued growing in their faith at Clear Creek. Later, they took the Financial Peace University course in order to gain a better understanding of how to get out of debt as well as how to honor God with their financial resources.

“One of the things that came out of that for us was creating a line item in our budget for generosity,” Sonia said.  “When we have it in our budget, it gives us freedom to be generous. God has given us all this financial security. So, part of our responsibility as believers is to show people his love.”

As the years have passed, the Rajajis have given help to many church members and those outside the church in an effort to show God’s love. They’ve also received help many times from their church family and have had to learn over and over again to accept help.

“We just make people take our help,” she laughed. “We [have been] served so well that we can’t say ‘no’ to people when they say, ‘Can we help you?’”

The week of the winter storm, Sonia had been praying specifically for a way to serve someone “over the course of time.” When she saw a Facebook post Brittani Fasske made one late night about delivering dinner to her husband who was out repairing customer’s pipes, she knew God was leading them to serve the Fasskes in a specific way.

“A lot of times people don’t know what they need,” Sonia said. She and Vijay had known the Fasskes as acquaintances through church, having served together at different times through the years. She knew they had two young children, they ran their business from home, that they were currently displaced from their home and normal routine, and she saw that Josh was working a crazy amount of hours doing a very necessary job in a moment of crisis. Their need became clear.

“We can work this into our schedule easily,” she realized. “We can do this as long as we need to because he needs to eat!”

Vijay was totally on board.

 

***

 

Brittani excitedly answered the phone when her husband called that night. She knew Vijay would have delivered the meal by now, as she had secretly helped by giving Vijay the address where Josh was working that night.

“I could tell he was emotional so that made me emotional,” she said.

“It just made me feel pretty special and important that they would take time out of their day to bring me food, which seems like something pretty small,” Josh said. “But when you’re working that much and not seeing your family, it’s actually something really huge. It really made me feel loved and taken care of.”

Josh also expressed the importance of being appreciated for his hard work in an extreme season.

“A lot of times, working a lot of hours and irregular days in plumbing just seems normal,” Josh said. “Plumbing problems happen all the time, so it really becomes a normal thing that people don’t really think about. But when a natural disaster happens, long hours really get pushed to the extreme. A lot of times it goes unnoticed. But for somebody to realize, He’s away from his family. He’s not getting a good meal at night. For them to see that need and come running to help me out was really cool.”

The friends took notice.

“They said, ‘That’s the kind of church I want to be part of. That’s the kind of love a church should show to their church family,’” recalled Brittani.

Once over the course of serving Josh, Vijay and his son, Samir, were able to also take a meal to one of Josh’s employees who was on a job with him. The man was dumbfounded by Vijay’s generosity.

“Seeing him ask questions like Why are you doing this for me? was so awesome,” Vijay recalled. “I have been praying that I will get to see him at church someday, his life changed.”

And it was not lost on Vijay that his son got to witness the exchange.

“We hope that by the way we live our lives our children see how you love people,” said Vijay.

“Being the church” was a theme that had the greatest impact on Josh during his chaotic work season.

“We want people to see the difference of a church that takes care of each other… and helps any way they can,” Josh said. “The people don’t just go to church; they go out and they are the church.”

“When a community is in need, our church and community steps up,” Brittani added. “It’s just like This isn’t a burden for us. This is my way to serve you. And they do it with an open heart and open mind. I always feel proud to be part of our community and our church.”

 

***

 

Sonia and Vijay continued to serve the Fasske family for another two months. Both families made it clear that serving is not just about being on the giving or receiving end — everyone benefits from service and generosity because it is simply an expression of God’s abundant love for his people.

“At first I thought I didn’t want to inconvenience anybody from taking time out of their day, even though it was a nice thought,” said Josh. “But I remembered back to when we were in a small group with Aaron Lutz. He once said, ‘You don’t want to take away somebody’s opportunity to serve you because it might be a next step of growth for them.’”

That “next step of growth” can be something life-changing or just another small way that God molds us further into the likeness of Christ – the one who has served us most generously. Sonia emphasized the importance of serving as a way to take the focus off ourselves to see others more clearly, the way God sees us.

“When we are serving others,” Sonia said, “it helps us grow in our devotion to God. This is one of the things we can do to try to diminish our selfishness and serve somebody else without expecting anything in return.”


 

066: Stories of Generosity

Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is coming. It’s officially the holiday season. And with that comes lots of talk about gift giving and generosity. But what is biblical generosity and what does it look like? Is it something special we do this time of the year? Is it simply tithing? Or is it something even more? On this episode, Jon Coffey sits down with two representatives from Clear Creek’s Generosity Team, Matthew Horne and Nicole Daniel, to talk about the concept of Whole-Life Generosity, and hear real stories of people from Clear Creek Community Church putting it into action in order to reflect the generosity God first showed to us.

Resources:

God and Money by Gregory Baumer and John Cortines

22 Ways to Live Whole-life Generosity During Tough Times (article)

Air Support

If you want to join the ongoing Hurricane Laura relief effort, visit clearcreek.org/disasterresponse to find more information and ways to get involved.


“I think God was telling me, ‘Hey, you have the ability, and you have the resources. You need to go do something.’”

– John Williams

On Sundays that aren’t in the midst of a global pandemic, you might find John Williams behind a camera during services at Clear Creek Community Church’s Egret Bay Campus.

Last Sunday, he was behind a different kind of service: helping deliver over 4,000 pounds of supplies to the people of Westlake in the wake of Hurricane Laura… via airplane.

 

 

 

 

John, a former Air Force pilot, co-owns and operates Flying Tigers Flight School at Ellington Airport, and says he got the idea on his way to work last week.

“I remember after Harvey, all the Cajun Navy guys showed up to help us out,” John said. “I’m driving to work, and I’m like, I’ve got nine airplanes. How about I load ‘em up and take them some stuff?

So, John and a few friends blasted out a request for supplies on Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor. And then the donations started coming in.

“Those donations came in from total strangers,” John said. “Random people would show up, and just be like, ‘I don’t know you, but here’s some stuff.’ People just came out of everywhere.”

A friend of a friend even got John connected to a lady who had volunteered to set up a distribution center for supplies and aid in Westlake and the surrounding area near Lake Charles.

On Sunday morning, John, his friend and neighbor, Warren, and flight instructors from Flying Tigers loaded up the five available planes, and flew the cargo to Westlake.

“When we got there, they met us with pickup trucks,” John said. “By the next day it was all delivered, it was all handed out. They said it was gone.”

But that wasn’t all.

While John and his team were there, they asked if there was anything else they could do to help.

“She said, ‘People haven’t had a hot meal here in a week.’” John relayed. “So we decided we’re going to do a little hot meal coming up this Saturday, the twelfth. It started as this small conversation, and then my buddy Warren says, ‘You know, Jesus fed 5,000. Let’s do that.’ I said, ‘You’re crazy. That was Jesus.’ He said, ‘No, let’s do it.’ So bottom line, we’ve been planning all this week and we’re feeding 5,000 people on Saturday in Westlake.”

John and his army of cooks and volunteers will leave the planes in the hangar this time around, hauling 450 pounds of meat and 400 pounds of noodles down I-10 and preparing the meal on site.

“God provides everything we have. It’s all his. So how do we use his resources that he’s given us?”

– John Williams

If you want to join the ongoing Hurricane Laura relief effort, visit clearcreek.org/disasterresponse to find more information and ways to get involved.


 

054: Christianity and Money

How does your faith affect how you think about money and how you steward your own resources? Should you tithe? Is it ok to use your money on something fun? Why is money a sticky topic for churches? During the Sticky message series, we’re sitting down with preachers right after they finish preaching to continue the conversation. On this episode, Rachel talks with Ryan following his sermon, “Christianity and Money.”

Resources:

Redeeming Money by Paul Tripp

The Economics of Neighborly Love by Tom Nelson

“Does God Care About My Finances?” by Mark Carden

Managing God’s Money by Randy Alcorn

Fields of Gold by Andy Stanley

Wednesdays at Home: Share Your Story

This is our mid-week opportunity to stay connected online with our pastors to receive mid-week scriptural encouragement, prayer, and updates on how we are responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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4 Hours in Orange

Like many others in the League City area, Jason and Melissa Davidson kept close tabs on updates on Hurricane Laura as it prepared to make landfall last week.

The Davidsons, who live in Friendswood and attend Clear Creek Community Church’s West Campus, had experienced the horrors of Harvey three years ago (almost to the day), and were preparing again for what they knew no could ever really prepare for.

But that was all before Laura spun away from Galveston and crashed into the Texas-Louisiana border as a Category 4 hurricane.

The Davidsons were left feeling relieved for their own home, family, and community, but knew that just a few hours away people were hurting and would need help.

 

“I kept seeing all my old Facebook posts of our house under water,” Melissa said. “[During Harvey] we had all of these people show up at our house, and 80 percent of them I didn’t even know their name. I don’t know what we would’ve done without that. What a blessing it was for our family.”

“Whether it’s a hurricane and someone’s house has four feet of water in it, or it’s a tornado and their house is obliterated, for everybody it’s kind of the same feeling, like, Whoa! What I’ve known for so long is now gone, and, Who is going to help me get through this? knowing very well that you can’t do it on your own,” Jason said. “A lot of times there’s remorse of not being in a situation to help them. But this being a little closer to home makes it easier to do, and to give the resources that I do have.”

So at 5 a.m. on Sunday, August 30, the Davidsons, along with their two boys (ages 11 and 8) loaded up the car, and drove to meet a few other families from Clear Creek at the Chick-Fil-A on I-45 and El Dorado, and then headed out to go try to help where they could in Orange, TX.

Once they arrived in Orange, the Davidsons and the rest of their crew met up with a friend from a church in nearby Beaumont who set them to work removing trees and debris from the roads.

Because many homes are still without power, the removal of fallen tree debris is one of the biggest current needs in the community so that electricians and other specialists can get to where they need to go in order to do their work.

“For them this wasn’t a flooding event,” Jason said. “They had a ton of high wind, so they had a tremendous amount of tree damage. I mean, huge, huge trees just toppled over with the roots and everything.”

In total, the Davidsons and company spent about four hours working on a five-block stretch of road in one neighborhood, enduring hot sun and a short rain shower.

They hopped in the car around noon and headed home, exhausted, but glad to have gone.

“These are our neighbors as the Bible refers to them,” Melissa said. “It’s difficult to put into words what it’s like when someone does something for you in a sacrificial way – time, money, sweat. They do that for you, and they don’t even know you.”

“I’m not just going there to help clear a tree or help someone move a piece of furniture or something like that. But, hopefully in the area we’re going into, the people go, ‘Wait a minute, these people don’t even live here. They don’t have a stake in this community. But they came all the way out here to help.’” Jason added. “For me, I care less about how much work I actually get done, and more about am I potentially helping to change someone’s heart?”

(Swipe to see more photos →)

The Davidsons were adamant that the work is not finished in Orange, Lake Charles, and the surrounding area, and that the opportunity will remain open for the foreseeable future as those affected by Laura begin to move forward.

“Don’t think this is just going to be a one or two-week thing,” Melissa urged. “If you couldn’t make it out there last weekend or can’t this coming weekend, I guarantee you in five weeks there will still be work to do.”

If you want to get involved, visit clearcreek.org/disasterresponse for a list of opportunities to serve including trips with Eight Days of Hope, ways to pray and give, and a list of needed supplies and where you can drop them off.

“I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they don’t have a skillset that’s not good enough,” Melissa said. “We’re not electricians or contractors or anything like that. But we do have hands and when people break stuff down, we can shovel, we can sweep, and we can help carry it away. There’s always something you can do… if you’re willing to sweat.”