A Home for Hospitality
About the Guest
Video that sparked Barbara and Dennis to be thinking of our homes as an embassy in a foreign land.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Barbara Rainey encourages Christians to represent their King well, and one way to do this is through the gift of hospitality.
A Home for Hospitality
Bob: As an ambassador, your assignment is to represent your homeland—to represent the culture and the values. We are ambassadors for Christ. Barbara Rainey says that means: “When people see us, they should be reminded of who He is and what matters to Him.”
Barbara: Jesus talked to anybody and everybody. He welcomed everybody. His love was available for everybody. And as His ambassadors, we need to share His love with anyone. I think it’s a great exercise for families to teach your kids to reach out to their friends in school and to invite their friends to come to your home so that you can know who your kids are hanging out with in school; but also, so that you can have an influence on those kids and, maybe, give them a different experience—
Dennis: Yes; right.
Barbara: —on what home is supposed to be like because theirs may be very different.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, August 26th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.
When people see you, your home, your family, how much of Jesus are they seeing? How much do your values reflect the values of the kingdom? We’re going to spend time talking about that today with Barbara Rainey. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’m actually not surprised to see the Reese’s® Peanut Butter cup in the position that it’s in on the poll on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com—this is the candy bar poll we’ve had going on this week.
Dennis: That is no way connected to the content of the broadcast.
Dennis: Although the broadcast this week has been sweet because Barbara is with us.
Bob: That’s true. I’d like to just acknowledge that—
Dennis: How’s that? Come on, Bob—
Bob: —there’s no connection—
Dennis: —acknowledge that may be worth one point. Come on.
Bob: There’s no connection.
Dennis: One point.
Bob: It was you who brought this up at the beginning of the week. [Laughter] So, the fact that it’s completely random should not surprise listeners at all.
But do you think of a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup as a candy bar? See, I don’t think of it as a candy bar.
Barbara: It’s not. It’s a candy, but it’s not bar shaped.
Bob: It’s not a bar. So, it’s not—we put it up there as one of the choices, but I’m just a little surprised because I don’t think of it as a candy bar.
Barbara: I don’t either.
Dennis: It was not a random choice, either. We were talking about how you can be on mission as an ambassador. We’ve been talking this week, with Barbara—welcome back, Sweetheart. [Laughter]
Bob: At last, we see the connection—we see the connection between being on mission as an ambassador—
Dennis: I’m about to get there.
Bob: —and a candy bar.
Dennis: An ambassador knows whom he serves.
Dennis: He knows and executes the mission of the one he serves.
Bob: Waiting for the candy bar part.
Dennis: —he operates out of an embassy; and in this case, we’re challenging people to think about making their home an embassy.
Dennis: And we’ve got a little sign—a stainless steel sign—that says, “Embassy of the King.” And finally, I think a good ambassador, operating out of his embassy, needs to train his kids to know how to operate in the world.
Bob: Here’s the connection to candy bars—
Dennis: And Barbara—
Barbara: Kids. [Laughter]
Dennis: Kids—yes; that’s it! [Laughter] We took the kids to Russia on a Josh McDowell trip to go visit orphanages.
Barbara: We did.
Dennis: And the way Barbara survived was a candy bar made only in Russia—it’s not exported, I’m sure. [Laughter] She survived all week because the sandwich, or whatever it was, had lettuce-thin meat.
Bob: The supplies were meager.
Dennis: They were. It was survivable only because of the candy bar. Thus—
Bob: Okay. It took a long way to get there, but that’s how we got to the candy bars.
Dennis: —thus, the straw poll. It’s okay.
Bob: Our focus, though, this week has been rethinking about our lives—thinking about being ambassadors / thinking about our homes being embassies for the Kingdom of heaven. Barbara—as Dennis said, you’ve created a plaque to put at the front door of your home.
You’ve created a wall-hanging and a framed print that can hang inside the home that all remind you that the home is an embassy for the kingdom of heaven.
If you were starting over again, as a mom / as a young wife—you had little kids in the home and you wanted to reinforce this idea—what might you do differently than what you did when you were raising your kids?
Dennis: Well, you know what I would do?
Barbara: What would you do?
Dennis: I’d go to FamilyLifeToday.com and I would play a little video that is on there—how long is the video of—
Barbara: It’s about a five- to six-minute video.
Dennis: —a follower of Christ, from a former Communist country, who turned his home into an embassy. And the reason we’re kind of speaking generically in pronouns is because the creator of this asked that we not refer to the person’s name or gender identity; but you’ll soon find out who it is by watching the video.
But I’d have the kids watch this video, Bob.
The person involved is an older person, but this person is on mission. This person is an ambassador operating out of an embassy.
Barbara: And this person talks about how important it is that his home reflects the King that he serves. So, he has some things around his house that remind him of whom he serves and whom he belongs to and remind those who come to visit whom he belongs to and whom his King and Lord is.
Dennis: And if you are wondering, kind of, where the concept for this comes from, Deuteronomy 6 is a great place to go. It talks about having a sign on the doorpost of your house—a banner that is proclaiming whose you are and who you are / your identity. It was all about helping the nation of Israel, as they moved into a foreign country, to know how to establish their spiritual identity and who their God was as they took up residence there. Not a bad idea for us, as followers of Christ, today.
Bob: So, I’m thinking about, again, how we remind ourselves that we are living as citizens of a different kingdom with different values and make that a part of what our home reflects. I have a friend / we have mutual friends; and if you go into their kitchen, painted on the wall in the kitchen is Proverbs 14:4, which says, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean.” [Laughter]
Barbara: That’s painted in the kitchen?
Bob: It’s painted in the kitchen.
Barbara: I was thinking it was going to be something about food—I was waiting for that.
Bob: See, I thought so too. I walked into the kitchen, and I saw, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean.” And then, I looked at the kitchen and said: “Oh! I understand.” [Laughter]
Barbara: Lots of little kids!
Bob: “If we didn’t have all these kids, the kitchen would be spotless,” is kind of what this is saying.
Part of what you do—if you want your home to reflect embassy values—Dennis, you talked about the American embassy in foreign countries would have pictures of presidents or might have founding documents up.
You put Scripture on the walls.
Barbara: You do.
Bob: You put pictures on the walls that might represent some of our spiritual forefathers. You do things to create a visual environment that keeps pointing us to whose home this really is; right?
Barbara: Yes; and that’s part of the reason I created these visuals for us to put in our home because I think seeing one of these signs that says, “Embassy of the King” on my front door or next to my front door every time I walk in—and I don’t have one up yet, but I’m going to put it up soon—but I think that would be good for my soul, when I walk in my front door, to remember that I’m walking into the embassy of the King. It’s a refuge / it’s a place of rest—when I’ve been out in foreign land, so to speak, and I’ve been on mission for Him—to come home and to know that where I’m walking into belongs to my King, and that it’s His, and that He is in charge here, not me.
Dennis: I’m going to screw this stainless steel, “Embassy of the King”—what do you call this?
It’s not a sign.
Barbara: I call it a plaque.
Dennis: I’m going to screw this into our bricks of the front of our house. I’m actually picturing, as I come home from work, I’m going to reach over and touch that. Or as I leave in the morning and leave home, I’m going to touch it as I leave—just as a reminder and start thinking about that. What if your kids did that every day as you would raise them?
Now, we tried to do that as we took our kids to school every day. We would—on the way to school, there was a certain spot on the road, where we’d start praying. We would pray for our children—that they would represent Christ, they would know whose they are, and who they are, and that they would represent Him well.
That’s what we’re about, as parents—we have to make our faith our kids’ faith—and how to help them begin to live on the basis of that faith in enemy territory.
Bob: Part of making your home an embassy involves hospitality; doesn’t it?
Barbara: Yes. I think it does involve hospitality because, when you think about an embassy in another country—if you went to the American Embassy in a foreign land, you would be welcomed, you would be greeted warmly, you would be invited in—and that’s the essence of hospitality. You might go to the American Embassy because you had a need, you had a problem that you need their help solving, or you might just go visit because you wanted to see the embassy.
I think our homes, as we represent Christ, can do the same thing. When our kids are in school and they want to bring friends home, we want those children, when they come into our home, to feel welcomed and received—that this is a warm, good environment to be in. I think hospitality is really important because we’re commanded to be hospitable in the Bible, and I think that’s one way that we communicate who Jesus is.
Jesus talked to anybody and everybody. He welcomed everybody. His love was available for everybody.
As His ambassadors, we need to share His love with anyone. I think it’s a great exercise for families to teach your kids to reach out to their friends in school and to invite their friends to come to your home so that you can know who your kids are hanging out with in school; but also, so that you can have an influence on those kids and, maybe, give them a different experience—
Dennis: Yes; right.
Barbara: —of what home is supposed to be like because theirs may be very different.
Dennis: I think families, that are followers of Christ, need to invite other kids in. You never know, as Barbara said, where they’re coming from. Maybe, they’ve never seen an intact family; maybe, they’ve never seen a husband and a wife being nice to each other/ loving each other. Now, a lot of our kids’ friends did because a lot of our kids’ friends had families that were intact; but I don’t think you can underestimate the impact your marriage and family can have on other teenagers as you raise yours.
Bob: Barbara, you’ve heard the interview that Dennis and I did with Rosaria Butterfield.
Bob: Powerful story of a woman whose life was transformed, ultimately, because of hospitality.
Barbara: That’s right; yes.
Bob: And I think, as I’ve reflected on her story—and again, if our listeners have not heard the story of a feminist, lesbian professor at Syracuse University, who became a follower of Christ and, now, is a pastor’s wife and a mother raising four children, you can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to hear that story. It is remarkable. But the thing that has stood out for me was how she got an invitation to an embassy.
Barbara: She did.
Bob: A pastor and his wife said, “We’d like to have you over for dinner.”
Barbara: Yes. She came; they had a great conversation, and it was the crack in the door.
Dennis: And she kept coming.
Barbara: And she kept coming.
Dennis: And then, she started visiting the church.
Bob: And you remember—when she first came, she came with a little edge because she told us—she said, “I brought a bottle of wine, just wanting to see if that pastor was going to freak out that there was alcohol. “ [Laughter]
And then, she said, “And I went out and got my best butch haircut so that I would be properly—
Dennis: I’d forgotten about that.
Bob: Yes. She said—
Barbara: —“properly antagonistic.” [Laughter]
Bob: Yes. And she said, “And it didn’t throw them.” I think, if we remember that we’re ambassadors, and if we remember that this is the embassy, then, when people from the foreign country come visit the embassy and they look like foreigners, it shouldn’t surprise us!
Barbara: No; it shouldn’t surprise us. Well, and if you think about it, that’s how Jesus received people. He was never shocked or offended or put off by people. He was in touch with all kinds of people. I think we get way too narrow, and selfish, and all kinds of things—but that’s the right way to do it [as Jesus did]—is to invite the foreigners in who live around the embassy and welcome them in the name of Christ.
Bob: We were having a conversation recently with somebody who was talking about wanting to be more intentional about how we share our faith in a culture that increasingly wants to hear less and less about it.
They were talking with people who aren’t followers of Christ, and they were talking about lost people. And this person said: “Wait a second. Is that—are you talking about me?—that I’m a lost person?” because he said, “I don’t think I’m lost,” and these other folks went—I guess we better stop and think, “If you are an ambassador, living in a foreign country, you should be missionally-aware—
Dennis: —“of your language.”
Bob: —“of your language, your actions, and your dress.”
Bob: This is, I think, what Paul was talking about when he said, “I’ve become all things to all people in order that I might win some.” You are aware: “I don’t live in the kingdom anymore. I live in a place where they don’t value what the people in the kingdom value, but I must be respectful of these people”—
Barbara: That’s right; yes.
Bob: —“as I share my homeland and my assignment with them.”
Dennis: Barbara and I chose to put our kids in public school, primarily, because God led us to; but secondarily, we wanted to train our kids in how to reach out to their friends who weren’t necessarily all going to be believers as they were.
We wanted them to kind of grow up in a hostile country.
Barbara: Well, we wanted them to go as ambassadors. We did not use that term with them, but we wanted them to learn to reach out to kids who didn’t know Christ. We also wanted them to learn how to relate to kids from all social backgrounds, different kinds of economic backgrounds, and different races because we are called to reach all kinds of people. We wanted them to have that experience of relating to kids from all kinds of different backgrounds.
And that’s a part of being an ambassador—is learning who your audience is, learning who these people are, learning their customs, learning the way they talk—not so that you can assimilate and become like them—but so that you can have a hearing and they can hear from you.
Bob: I’m glad you brought that up because one of the dangers that we face, as ambassadors—
—let’s face it—we live in a pretty nice place. I’m thinking: “If I was the ambassador to Fiji, after a few years of living in Fiji, you might start to think, ‘Fiji’s pretty nice. [Laughter] In fact, it’s—
Dennis: So, when you were saying you live in a nice place, you’re not talking about your home being nicer than anybody else’s.
Dennis: You’re talking about America.
Bob: I’m saying we live in the world—this is a pretty nice world we live in.
Bob: And God’s given us good things here, and you can fall in love with the world.
Dennis: We had dinner the other night with a couple, Tim and Kathy Bush. They are from Washington, and they shared their story of how they were lost. I mean, they’d spent thousands of dollars on marriage counselors. They had been all over the place trying to find solutions for their marriage. They were not followers of Christ—had a second home, had all the trappings, had everything they wanted—and finally, found Christ / found a purpose, and got on mission, and became ambassadors.
Now, they’re all over wanting to strengthen marriages all across the country.
They were actually driving from the state of Washington through Little Rock to get to Aiken, South Carolina, to perform an Art of Marriage® event in that church to serve marriages and families there. They were on mission, and they talked about what you just said, Bob. They talked about how their attitude changed about—instead of being in the world, loving the world, of the world—they wanted to be those who changed the world and made a difference in the world and other people’s lives.
Back to the story of our kids being in high school—I’ll never forget the first outreach we had in our home. Again, making your home an embassy may mean reaching out, inviting kids informally to hear the gospel. And in our case, we actually hired a speaker—and I’ll never forget, Bob, I bought—it had to be over 100 hot dogs—
—all these hot dogs and buns and everything. We were going to grill dogs and be there for these hungry teenagers, and I think seven kids came.
Barbara: Plus, our kids. [Laughter]
Dennis: Plus, our kids. We were eating hot dogs for —
Barbara: —a long time.
Dennis: —a long, long time.
Bob: The good news is you can buy seven hot dogs for about 20 bucks. [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, you can buy a lot of them; but—
Barbara: And they freeze real well!
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: I just remember that freezer was full of a reminder that we’d overshot it.
But you know what? By the time our kids graduated from high school—the last one—we’d actually created an outreach that had anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of the student body coming out to events to hear a singing group, an illusionist, maybe, a simulcast with Josh McDowell speaking to them around relevant issues.
And that’s why I want to just say to parents: “It may not work the first time you try this to become—
—make your home into an embassy with your kids. Don’t quit! Keep on inviting kids over there and stay after the task.”
Barbara: Well, and you’re modeling for your kids. I think that’s—I mean, when you said just a second ago, Dennis, we did this. Well, it wasn’t just us.
Dennis: That’s right.
Barbara: We did it because we encouraged our kids to do it. So, it was really our kids who did it; but we did it together. And because we encouraged them to reach out to their friends and to create a safe place on campus for kids to talk about Christ, they actually bought into and began to do it.
So, the whole reason that we did this—that we had the kids over, and had hot dogs, and hired a speaker—is because we wanted to model reaching out to others for our kids and with our kids so that they would catch the vision of what it meant to be an ambassador / how to go to school—not just to get an education and graduate and get out of there, which is what most of them think—but how to go to school on purpose and to know that God has a purpose and a mission for you wherever He has you in school. We wanted our kids to be aware of that every day.
Dennis: I think the thing I want to challenge people, who don’t have kids to do—you may say, “Maybe, our work is done.” No, no, no—there are marriages and families that are falling apart all across the country. You need to know that we’ve created tools here that can turn you into a great ambassador. The Art of Marriage has now been seen by over 700,000 people because of ambassadors / people who grabbed it and showed the video at an event or in a small group.
And there have been some men, who have said: “You know what? I want to help men be courageous men.” And they’ve grabbed Stepping Up®, the video series, and have led a Stepping Up video series with a small group of men or a large group of men and have made an impact on their lives. And over 200,000 men have been through that.
So, there are thousands of ambassadors who, today, are saying: “I want to make a difference. Give me the tool. Get out of my way. I want to reach my community for Christ.”
Barbara: I think the important thing is that each of us, as ambassadors for Christ, need to ask God:
“What is it that You want me to do?” Then, be intentional about it.
If you have kids, you need to be intentional about teaching them that they are ambassadors—that their lives represent Christ every day when they walk out the front door of your house and go to school, or go to their job, or whatever—they are representing Christ. And it’s your responsibility, as a parent, to help them wear that well and to understand what that means.
So, whether you’re still parenting or whether you’re in an empty nest, we need to be intentional about representing Christ every day that we have.
Bob: And if you have kids at home, a great way to be intentional is to go to our website at FamilyLifeToday.com and download the free e-booklet that’s available that gives you four guided conversations that you can have with your family / with your kids to talk about: “How do we do this? What does this look like for us?”
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and download the e-version of the Embassy booklet that Barbara has created.
While you’re there, find out more about the “Embassy of the King” plaque, and banner, and canvas—the other resources Barbara has created. And if you’re ready to have an impact in the lives of folks in your neighborhood, in your community, in your church, get a tool like Dennis talked about—The Art of Marriage small group series, The Art of Marriage event kit, the Stepping Up series. Get some people together and go through this material and start pouring into the lives of others so that you can help strengthen them in their marriage, and in their family, and in their relationships. Find out more about these resources that are available from us when you go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com; or call, if you have any questions, at 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, I want to wish a “Happy anniversary!” today to a couple who have been to five Weekend to Remember® getaways—
—five of them! Today, they celebrate 26 years as husband and wife—Fred and Mary Lil West, who live in Mission Viejo, California. They are a part of the Cru® team. FamilyLife is a part of Cru, and Fred and Mary Lil are a part of Cru as well. We just wanted to say, “Happy anniversary!” to the Wests as they celebrate their 26th wedding anniversary today—one past the silver anniversary.
And I’ll tell you what—anniversaries are important. We think anniversaries really matter and ought to be celebrated. That’s why, as The Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries™, we are acknowledging couples, like the Wests, as they celebrate. We’re urging you to make your marriage a priority. Our goal, here at FamilyLife, is that more couples would celebrate more anniversaries for more years to come. The way we do that is by offering practical biblical help and hope each day so that your marriage can go the distance.
And we appreciate those of you who partner with us in making this ministry possible.
We’re listener-supported. This month, we’re asking FamilyLife Today listeners, who have been listening regularly, but maybe, it’s been awhile since you’ve made a donation—maybe, you haven’t donated this year. We’re a little behind this year from where we were last year at this time in terms of the number of people who are supporting the ministry. We’re asking regular listeners, “Would you consider, today, going to FamilyLifeToday.com and making an online donation; or calling 1-800-FL-TODAY and making a donation over the phone?” You can also mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
When you get in touch with us, if you are able to donate $100 or more, we’d like to express our thanks by sending you a set of three Bible studies for couples—part of The Art of Marriage® Connect Series. These studies are designed for small group use or for a husband and wife to use together. They are our thank-you gift when you help us with a donation of $100 or more today.
Again, thanks for your support of this ministry.
And we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in church this weekend. And I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to hear, again, from Barbara Rainey—this time, about God’s design for women as wives. Barbara’s just written a book on the subject, and she has some thoughts to share with us Monday. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
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