When we moved into our newly built home a year and a half ago, Edric and I dedicated it to the Lord. First of all, our house was finished through much prayer and God’s faithful provision, so it most definitely belonged to Him. Each month of the construction phase He supplied what we needed to complete it. My prayer always was, “Lord, please provide above and beyond what we need to finish and furnish our home.” (Up to this day, he continues to add to what we have so we can get pieces here and there to decorate our organically modern home.)
Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.”
When the monumental task of constructing our place loomed over us at the very beginning, Edric and I claimed Psalm 127:1 as both a promise and a reminder. Even though we had an amazing architect and contractor, we knew that God was our architect, contractor and designer. We also prayed that this would be a home where God’s presence would dwell and His purposes would prevail.
Therefore each space was considered with ministry in mind…ministry to our family and ministry to others. How could we make areas that invited people to conversation and connectedness? How could we be hospitable with our home, and utilize it for gatherings where people hear God’s word? What configuration for the rooms would encourage family bonding and keep our kids close to one another?
Shortly after our home was livable, we invited family and friends over. Our furniture wasn’t complete and the decor needed help, but we couldn’t wait to use our home to bless people.
Some of the events we hosted were chaotic and crazy, others quiet and intimate. Some things were damaged and soiled, but we don’t have pricey furniture or decor, and we don’t own luxury goods or keep wads of cash at home. So I did not feel stressed when people were all over the house. There was nothing super costly to break or even to take! More importantly, God blessed us with this home to steward it for His use. Hence the title “For Official Use Only.” Or, more accurately put, “For God’s Use Only.”
It deeply delights us when people come together in our home for fellowships, bible studies, activities and play dates. The joy outweighs the cost and the clean up that follows.
At the turn of the year, Edric and I decided to be more intentional. So the first event we hosted in January was for neighbors. We teamed up with our couple’s bible study group to invite their family and friends to a backyard barbecue. Because everyone helped out, decorating and setting up became such a fun bonding experience. Some baked cookies, others lent their tables and chairs or house help, others came early to string lights and style the tables, and still others contributed ice cream and dessert. We also prayed two weeks prior that neighbors would come.
To be honest, I had my qualms. Would neighbors be willing to show up at another neighbor’s house whom they didn’t know? And without alcohol being served to loosen everyone up? (Of course they didn’t know that alcohol wouldn’t be served when they were invited.)
Well, the good news is that eighteen of the invited guests came, excluding the headcount for their kids. Most of them met us and one another for the first time. Edric got to insert a short talk on how to live in 2016, which centered on the principle of numbering our days. So our guests heard from God’s Word and they sat through the entire thing! Only one guy had to stand up and take a call.
After the evening came to a close, I thanked the Lord for the privilege of having a home where we can host occasions like this.
God tells us in Romans 12:13 to “practice hospitality.” It takes effort and monetary sacrifice to do so, but Edric and I remind ourselves that God built this home for the sake of the gospel. Yes, He also gave it to us to enjoy and raise our family in, but may it best be known as a home where people live out the gospel message of God’s love and forgiveness, and where people who step inside it experience how much God loves them!
Getting the backyard ready:
Praying as a team:
The guests arrive (each person who invited someone sat beside their guests):
If you want to organize your own backyard barbecue, here are some printable homemade food labels you can use:
14 thoughts on “For Official Use Only”
Love your house especially the (gray) interior walls where Catalina would always take a pose! Cant wait to have my own house provided&designed by the Lord. ????
Thanks for sharing!
I am not yet married but this is definitely my prayer to the Lord that when the time comes I will be married and has my own home with my own family, this will be open to all youths, couples, families, Pastors and others whenever they need to have some space to go to. My desire is to let our home be a nest to those people seeking to have a deeper relationship with the Lord, at the same time with one another (fellowshipping). 🙂
We have a simple house (not even ours as we live with my mother-in-law who we take care of), but decided it was important to hold our dgroup in our home. It’s chaotic in some ways (there are often 10+ kids as well as adults), but we’re so thankful we’re able to do this. Our dgroup seemed to bond exceptionally quickly, and even the kids can’t wait for d-group . . . one of the youngest boys talks all week long about going to “CCF bahay” 🙂
Thanks for sharing. In 2012 God also miraculously provided our own house at a time we never thought possible because we did not have the means and we were already quite comfortable with the house we were renting. But God had a greater plan (as He always has). To this day it still exhilarates me to share the story of our miracle house. The beautiful house that God built in just two months when we had nothing. And now with your story, I am reminded that aside from occasional dgroup meetings held here, we need to be more intentional in using it for the expansion of His kingdom. God bless you more.
So timely for us ,we are also praying to God for the provision to construct our dream house this year. Your motivations and intentions to use your house as a dwelling place for God’s glory reminded me to align our purpose with the Lord in building the house. It opened my mind to a perfect reason why we want to build the house, and that is to serve the Lord and honor His name. ????
Not sure why the heart icon came out as question marks. Sorry for that…
Hi Joy, I love your blog it is a place where God use to teach me with so many things even though am a grandma already , Just this morning as I stepped out of the shower, I prayed that God please before the rainy season comes can You please bless me and my husband with money to fix our dirty kitchen because my kitchen gets flooded that comes from the roof and The house needs repair and needs to be painted along with so many things. As I read your blog today , I realized that God is encouraging me that He will answer my prayer , I said to God , Lord I know it is Your will to fix the House because this is not ours , it belongs to my daughter and her husband. They were just touched by God to provide a place for us to stay for free, I want to be a good steward of other people’s property and honestly I forget always to say to God to provide above and beyond of what we need, I was reminded by God that sometimes I get use living in meager means that I got so use to it , that All I need to is ask God , I forgot that He can bless me exceedingly beyond of what I think or imagine or expect (sorry Lord if I miss quote)thank you Joy. I saw God’s heart especially today through you I am deeply moved by this. it is true that when I can’t See His Hand I can trust His heart.
Hi Ms. Joy. Thanks for sharing. I wish I am one of your neighbors. (he he he). It’s always such a delight to read your stories. They are simply inspiring and lighten one’s spirit. God bless your family Ms. Joy.
Hi Ms. Joy thanks for posting this. I like your point when you said, “each space was considered with ministry in mind…ministry to our family and ministry to others.” I pray that in the future once I have my own house for my family, we will be able to utilize this for Gods Word to be shared among HIS people. God Bless you and your family 🙂
God bless you too Lurence
Sorry I meant, Laurence!
Wow!Such a blessing if you were our neighbors.Just like you,we are dedicating our still under construction new house for God’s glory and to be a blessing to many.Thanks for sharing your story.God bless your entire household!
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain. Psalm 127:1
what a wonderful sharing, god bless you!