Join The Table this Sunday at the Walters’ (contact us for directions) for a Table worship gathering. We’ll gather at 4:30pm for a shared meal. We will then conclude our study of 1 Thessalonians (looking at 4:13-5:11), where we have been asking, “How shall we live on mission?” Invite a friend; everyone is welcome!
The rhythms of The Table (hospitality, discipleship, and blessing) are our mission, our values, and the vision of how we see Christ calling us to live. We are in a season focusing on Hospitality. So what do we mean by this?
Hospitality is the rhythm of creating space in our lives and inviting others into relationship, where life and faith are shared. Envision a recent party at The Table, where friends were sharing a meal and fun with neighbors and those from the church. Hospitality is when the circles of “my” life purposefully overlap with the circles of “your” life.
Will you join us in showing Hospitality to those around us?
This Sunday, join us in cooking/serving at the South Side community meal. This monthly meal for neighbors is hosted by Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church (OSLC) and the Happy Valley Neighborhood Association. The Table is cooking up some baked potatoes, w/ all the fixings. The meal goes from 5p-6:30p at OSLC (1720 Harris Ave.). If you can help cook, contact us and we’ll give you the info. Otherwise, see you there!
Our next worship gathering will be February 26th at the Walters.
Time is the most valuable gift we have. When we give of our time freely for the sake of the gospel, amazing things can happen. Paul the apostle knew this and made this principle a central issue of his teaching to the Thessalonians.
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:1–12. Reflect on 1 Thessalonians 4:11b–12:
“But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (ESV).
A critical component of the Christian faith is to truly love people; this means sacrificing our own resources for the betterment of others (1 Thessalonians 4:9–11). But Paul doesn’t end there—he also tells the Thessalonians to continue to work.
Paul could make this remark because of the temptation to go full-time into ministry when it wasn’t necessary to do so. It’s possible that some people viewed the return as Jesus as so imminent that they felt they could stop working. It could have also been the case that some church members were living off the charity of other wealthier members, when they could have been providing for themselves.
Whatever the precise scenario, continuing to work allowed for the Thessalonian Christians to freely share about Jesus—without having to depend on other people for their livelihood. This model of bi-vocational ministry is what Paul himself modeled when he was with the Thessalonians in person (1 Thessalonians 2:9).
In many instances of ministry, bi-vocational is the right choice and should probably be the default stance. Paul realized the power of this testimony—no one would be able to argue that a person believes because he or she is paid to do so. People who didn’t believe in Jesus would also recognize the self-sacrifice made, for the sake of the gospel.
I personally have had a full-time job while working a very demanding ministry role as a volunteer. In fact, I did this for over a decade in various capacities with different ministries and eventually with Jesus’ Economy. I can tell you that it is incredibly rewarding. It can be exhausting at times, and you must still balance your rest with your efforts. But the things you can accomplish with your extra time can truly transform lives. There is a time for some ministers to go full-time into ministry—that’s what happened for me about six months ago—but that’s certainly not the case for all. And it’s certainly the exception to the default stance. And even now, I am still a volunteer—providing for the majority of my family’s needs for the time being.
For you, ministry work could happen from behind a computer—volunteering for an organization with a large online platform. This work could happen in person, working with a local homeless rescue mission. This work could happen as you minister to your neighbors and coworkers. This effort could happen as you are called to start something new for Jesus. Whatever the case is, the point is that we’re all missionaries and should all use our talents for Jesus.
How can God work in your life, to accomplish his ministry goals, without you having to quit your job or your daily work? How can God use your talents to accomplish his purposes?
This daily devotional is by our very own John D. Barry, the CEO of the non-profit Jesus’ Economy. To get the free Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional and other updates, Subscribe now. By shopping fair trade at JesusEconomy.org, you can create jobs for the impoverished. You can also give directly to a cause you’re passionate about, such as creating jobs, planting churches, or meeting basic needs. 100% goes to the developing world.
As I’m writing this, it’s the end of my 2nd day at Casa Vides. It’s been fun getting to know the house, the ladies here, and the routine. It’s a challenge sometimes trying to communicate with my not-so-great-Spanish, but I’m muddling through.
To explain about this house – Casa Vides is part of the Annunciation House organization, about a half mile away from the mother house here in El Paso. It has mostly longer term guests than at Annunciation House. Right now we house 13 widows, 4 teenagers (kids of the 2 youngest widows), and one lady from Kenya. They are staying here while waiting for legal red tape and documentation papers. Also there are some rooms upstairs for refugees who might pass through for a short time, but since I’ve been here, there haven’t been any refugees.
Right now I am one of only 2 volunteers at this house. There would have been 3 of us, but Bea, (the 82 year old), had a fall last weekend and she’s in the hospital with an injured leg. The other volunteer, Jane, has been training me. The plan was for me to shadow her yesterday & today, – then for the next 2 days, she’ll follow me around while I do all the routine stuff. Jane is a retired nurse from Minnesota and I really like her.
Yesterday we went over to A-House to pick up 3 people who needed to be driven across town to the ICE agency (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to do paperwork. One was a young pregnant woman who had been separated from her husband at the border. The other 2 were a father and teenage son from Guatemala who were trying to get to their family in San Antonio, TX. The dad wore an ankle bracelet that had been put on him in detention at the border (he’s not a criminal, just an undocumented human being).
Today Jane & I went to pick up some donated food (mostly fruits & vegetables, but also some meat & eggs), which we brought back here and sorted through. The big boxes of perishable veggies were more than this house could consume before they went bad, so we kept what we could use, and took the rest over to another shelter in town.
On my first night here, the Mexican ladies made a hearty meal of rice, beans, squash, and turkey. They have turkey quite often because a whole bunch of turkeys were donated for Thanksgiving & Christmas. There’s still probably 15 turkeys down in the big freezer in the basement, and they’ll use them till they’re gone. The “guest” residents are all on a rotating chore list for cooking, cleaning, and doing dishes (trastes). And those little (they’re all short) Mexican grandma ladies are good cooks! Then, after dinner, some of the ladies started singing songs. All in Spanish, and wow, could they sing! That real ‘old Mexico’ sound. One lady recited a long poem too. They wanted Jane & I to sing for them in English, so we sang “You are my sunshine” and “I’ve been working on the railroad”. Anyways, all the singing was a kind-of goodbye to 3 ladies that were leaving to go back to Mexico the next day.
Well, it’s getting late, so I’ve got to send this off and get to bed! I send you all my love and hope you are all well & happy.
This weekend is our first Hospitality Weekend. If we are to be overlapping our lives with our neighbors and putting in a good word for Jesus when we can, then we should spend time with our neighbors (no brainer, right?). To help facilitate this, The Table will have no collective gathering this weekend, but invite you to intentionally participate in or invite your neighbors into something. Listen to your neighbor’s story, learn from them, and look for how God is opening a door for deeper relationship. Have fun, and we’ll see you February 12th for a worship gathering.
B.L.E.S.S. Prayers for those around us
B – Body (health, safety, physical self)
L – Labor (work, school, vocation)
E – Emotional (peace in mind, emotions)
S – Social (family, friends, others)
S – Spiritual (God to draw them to Himself, connection with God)
By John Barry, shared from https://www.jesuseconomy.org/blogs/news
Faith in Jesus often means opposing social norms. The Christian demands justice, lives a life of mercy, and bases all actions on love. The gospel itself also seems like foolishness to those who don’t believe it (1 Corinthians 1:26–31). Thus, we should not be surprised when we experience opposition. Paul the apostle came to expect it.
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:13. Reflect on 1 Thessalonians 3:3b–5:
“For you yourselves know that we are appointed for this, for indeed when we were with you we told you beforehand that we were about to be afflicted, just as indeed it happened, and you know. Because of this, I also, when I could endure it no longer, sent in order to know your faith, lest somehow the tempter tempted you and our labor should be in vain” (LEB).
In this passage in 1 Thessalonians, Paul is further reflecting on the difficulties he and the Christians at Thessalonica have experienced (compare 1 Thessalonians 2:14–16). From the time the Thessalonians came to faith, they experienced persecution (Acts 17:4–10; compare 1 Thessalonians 1:6–8). And Paul had experienced the same throughout his ministry (2 Corinthians 6:3–10).
Paul expected persecution because Jesus, other apostles, and the prophets all experienced the same. In Paul’s mind, his sacrifices for the gospel were part of his overall calling (Philippians 1:29). We should feel the same about our faith in Jesus.
Paul was deeply aware that the faith he professed—when put into action—directly opposed how many people lived. The love that the gospel demands means serving others (John 12:44–13:20). It means justice and mercy for all (Matthew 5:6–7). The gospel makes all people equal before God (Galatians 3:27–29). For the wealthy and powerful, these ideas overthrow their very way of life.
Paul’s gospel meant that the religiously and politically powerful would have to acknowledge their lack of power before God. All must admit that God, and God alone, saves. This makes whatever implements of politics and religion we have ultimately useless, unless they conform to the values of justice, mercy, and equality.
The gospel demands that we start with Jesus—letting him transform us. The gospel is based on self-sacrifice. This means loving others with everything we have, and giving whatever is needed to help the hurting. People living the gospel itself—that’s what our world needs.
In what ways is your life currently out of alignment with the values of gospel—what are some tangible actions you can take to change that? How can you take any persecution you are experiencing and use it for good—for the betterment of others and spreading the good news of Jesus?