From the Nursery to the Kitchen

Do you ever watch those house shows on TV? Build one, buy one; remodel, remake, or redecorate one? Check out the magazines, peruse the newspapers? Rummage through the real estate news, from “the market’s a mess” to “now’s the time to buy”? Do any of that and you’ll quickly note the 3 most expensive/valuable rooms in a house. The kitchen, the bathroom these days, and … the nursery! Yep, that’s right. Now we’re not talkin’ potty/powder room in church. But we can have a conversation around the nursery and the kitchen. In fact, we must, if the subject is, as we’ve been sayin’ all month, building a spiritual house. All month, we’ve been gathered around the notion that if we want to build a better life, we need to build a better spiritual house. We’ve said a good name is a good place to start. And there’s no better name than Jesus. So, take the name of Jesus with you. Make his name your own. Live so he’d be glad to make your name his. A good foundation’s essential. So build your house on worship and praise. And, if you want to build and live in a better spiritual house, you’ll need good windows and doors. A way to look out and see. A way to get out and serve. Now we’re down to one last lesson. The best spiritual houses always pour their best spiritual resources into the nursery and the kitchen.

These are where believers are made and disciples are formed!

Ahhh, the nursery. It’s where believers begin. Hannah can help. Old Testament Hannah. The mamma who prayed and prayed waited and waited. She wanted a child. O, how she wanted. (There are folks in this room who can really relate.) But her passion was not just for herself. She wanted a son she could give as a praise to her God. “Give to your maidservant a son, and I will give him to you, Lord, all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” (The no haircut rule was a sign of utter devotion in that ancient day.) She was so ardent, she appeared drunken in prayer. Hannah knows in her bones that every child is a little hallelujah! I hope the rest of us know it, too. At the 2 AM feeding. When they’re surly in class, and yankin’ ya t’ward the next ride at King’s Dominion. And when those little ones are licensed to drive and a ½ hr. late. And you can’t decide whether to kill ‘em or hug ‘em when you hear the horn honk, “I’m home.” Every child is a little hallelujah! So help us, Hannah.

Hannah has learned a rule we can learn, too. For ours and our children’s sake. Devotion begins with tenderness and develops with discipline. Notice the child, Samuel (Given from/Lent to the Lord) remains with his mom his 1st 2 years. More than mamma’s milk is involved here. She makes sure she’s there for all those 1sts. Her songs and her stories put him to sleep. She wakes him. She is his pre-school and Sunday School. She’s the one who says, “No, no.” She’s the one who tells him what his name means, from the day he is born. And she’s the one who prepares him to part from her by loving-him-with-a-love-that-will-never-leave-him. She’s the source of what I call his instinctive theology, his bedrock assurance he is loved, he has a purpose as heaven-sent as he himself, and that his world is not random but revealed to be a trust from God. (Not a day or an hour of her two years with Samuel is wasted!) Her tenderness so steadfast he fears-not to grow, her discipline so consistent he knows (from the start) the way he’s to go.

May what we say of Hannah be said of us. As parents. Grands. Elder siblings. Aunts/uncles. And especially, as a church. We all know the line, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov. 22: 6 What we forget: how from-the-beginning it begins and ‘til-the-end it lasts. Wanna better life? Especially in your family? Church? Community? Build a better spiritual house! Invest where even the market begins. In the nursery! With every child of yours and ours from the earliest of the earliest. Hannah has practical helps that will help us.

A. Be there. Just be there. Early. Often. Late. For your sake, theirs.  God’s. Yours, the 1st face-of God kids see. That’s what’s at stake.

B. Let God in Christ live in you richly, form and teach your little ones, yes. But more, sing them psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your heart to God. Col. 3: 16

C. Rear the kids in your life/church to give them away. ‘To lend them to God’s best purpose for them. Help ‘em see it clearly.

Here are ABC’s for the spiritual nursery all of us can learn and do.

Great! Now where do we go, what do we do, when little ones grow bigger? (And nobody’s ever but a growing child. Even you.) Head for the kitchen. Build it well. Equip it carefully. Expand it regularly.

If the nursery’s where believers begin, the kitchen’s where disciples are formed. In the kitchen we discover another Bible hero. Ananias!

I know he’s not likely a hero you know. But he may well hold the mortgage on your spiritual house?! We are in his debt. Why? He 1st came alongside of Saul-the-Christ-hater and strengthens him into Paul-the-Apostle, sent with authority to carry Christ’s name to the gentiles. (That’s us folks!) “Brother Saul, [he says] the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road… has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Under Ananias’ care, scales fell as freely from Saul’s soul as from his eyes! I know, it’s Barnabas who usually gets the credit as the great mentor of Paul. And it’s true. But Ananias comes first. And in a way everyone of us can, if only we will. He ministers to this needy soul in the kitchen. Over food. First water, then milk. Then porridge, then solid food. And he makes it all in a way the patient will partake, be hungry for more, and go from strength to strength. This is kitchen kindness, one to another. It’s over-the-counter conversation that converts a heart for Christ. It’s revealing the recipe for drawing near and walking close to Christ. It’s the non-sermon sermon, the Bible-reading that bears down, not bores. It’s the cleaning up after supper that leaves the spirit more sparkling than the sink or stove.

Wanna a better life? Build a better spiritual house! Pour all you can into the kitchen! I mean by that, find yourself somebody who will share their spiritual cooking for the sake of your spiritual strength. ‘Somebody who will let you read their recipes and try their best dishes and will tell you honestly when you’ve got it right and when you’ve got it wrong. This is what spiritual formation is!

Ira taught me spiritual cooking. (Over-shoulder art… mercy.)

Jim Pike taught me at the desk, not in the lecture hall.

Carroll taught me with encouragement. (Taize travels)

These and many more, my Ananias. Have you had one? Do you still?

If not, when was it you started needing-help-in-Christ no more?

Oh, get with your Ananias in the kitchen. And be an Ananias to somebody else! Let us teach you how to share the faith so you can help someone (you love) be formed/shaped by faith. To be a disciple is to make disciples! So get out in the kitchen, the spiritual kitchen … and rustle those pots and pans. …With the Name above all, a foundation in worship and praise, windows for seeing, doors for serving, a formative nursery and a discipling kitchen, THIS is a SPIRITUAL HOUSE! Let’s build ours better and better!

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