Furniture Store Sheltering!

At the beginning days of the Pandemic, we were being told to shelter in place. After a fierce winter storm, unofficially tagged Uri, recently hit Texans the weekend of Valentine's Day, some Houstonians were sheltering in a furniture store! With the power grid failing and in catastrophic freefall, millions throughout the state found themselves without electricity and clean drinking water for days. 

Jim McIngvale, proprietor of Gallery Furniture, a retail home furnishings chain, came to the aid of what he described as "my people!" McIngvale is affectionately known as "Mattress Mack!" Back in the day, when I pastored in southwest Houston, I remembered McIngvale in television commercials where he acted as his own pitchman. He would close every commercial speaking quickly and in an animated way holding some wadded up bills in his hand while shouting, "Gallery Furniture really SAVES YOU MONEY!" "Gallery...SAVES! (to the rescue!). It was memorable!

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Thirty years later, this generous businessman still "practices what he preaches!" As winter storm Uri unleashed single digit temperatures upon the Lone Star State, needy persons responded by coming to warm themselves at Gallery by wrapping up in a blanket or sitting on a couch, in a recliner or chair. 

It was reported that thousands popped in during the day and that some 500 homeless persons spent the night in the store. McIngvale provided sandwiches for the hungry, toys for the children and warm shelter for the needy. He has been giving to his community in various ways for years. The last big need before this one was during Hurricane Harvey! 

Mack lives by this motto: "The essence of living is giving!" And he punctuates that philosophy with this addendum, "And I'll take that to my grave!" It would not be stretching things to say that Jim McIngvale is a caring and hospitable guy!

In the Scriptures hospitality is the "love of strangers." In the book of Leviticus, Moses instructs the Israelites, "When the stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger... as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." (Lev. 19:33-34 ESV). Paul said to the believers in Rome, "Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." (Ro. 12:13). In other words, be generous and hospitable!

Many believe that hospitality is a spiritual gift, a special enablement of the Holy Spirit. Peter seems to connect this admonition, "Show hospitality to one another without grumbling." (1 Peter 4:9) to his discussion of gifts in verses ten through eleven of that same passage. Whether it is or not, being hospitable is both an opportunity and a duty for believers whenever they encounter others in need. I believe that when we show hospitality we feel joy in that opportunity and by exercising our responsibility to care in practical ways. 

Some like the use of acrostics to visualize what words or concepts mean. Here's what being hospitable suggests to me...

H - being helpful or willing to host, O - others, S - strangers, P - persons, I - in need, and facing T - trouble. When we are hospitable, we are A - accommodating and available, showing B - brotherly L - love. And this is always E - encouraging to those seeking our help and enjoyable to us who serve! 

Mike Keppler, retired pastor, 
active churchman and
doting grandparent. 


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