I’ve been feeling for some time now that we needed to find/purchase/trade for a minivan with enough seats to allow us to do things like cart neighbor kids to VBS, transport camping equipment, invite others without transportation to come to church with us.  However, I was complacent about this feeling; I ignored it.  I wasn’t sure that what I was feeling was from God buy cytotec online.

So we went last week to get our annual inspection on our car.  It failed the emissions test with multiple errors.  One of the errors was a Memory Checksum error, which all the mechanics I called told me would require a replacement of the ECM (onboard computer) and would cost $1000-$2500.  This was just the spur that I needed to get off of my duff, listen to the Lord, and start looking for a new vehicle that will allow us to better serve our neighbors and reach people for Christ.  I believe that the Lord is going to have a hand in providing this vehicle, and I am praying that His will be done in it, that He will be glorified. 

I have put our Neon up for sale on craigslist (with honesty about its problems).  I am praying that we will receive a fair and equitable offer in cash or trade.

The Bible commands us to be different from the world around us:

Scriptural Principle:
John 17:14 “And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by
the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and
acceptable and perfect will of God.”

It also tells us that we ARE different than the culture that surrounds us by principles of shared heritage with Jesus and our citizenship in heaven.

Scriptural Principle:
John 17:14 “I have given them thy word; and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

Philippians 3:20a “For our citizenship is in heaven”

Furthermore, we are reminded that our difference (specifically our Love) is a sign of our Christianity to the unbeliever:

Scriptural Principle:
John 13:35 “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Recently I was blessed to see proof of God’s hand in my life as I try to live like Jesus and fulfill the great commission in the area of the world that God has called me to. 

My wife and I have made friends with a couple of families that live in our building.  Recently we had the opportunity to anonymously help one of them (a single mother) when she was short on her rent.  We were blessed to be able to help her anyway, but I was especially blessed when I found out about a conversation that she had with her neighbor regarding her “miraculous” help.

He neighbor suggested that my family must have been the ones that paid her rent. 

“Really?” she asked, “Do you think so?”

“Of course.  I has to be them.” her neighbor responded, “who else would care that much?”

WOW!!!!  “Who else would care that much?”  What an amazing testament to the power of God’s love shining through us.  It’s important to emphasize that it isn’t that our helping with the rent showed love (though it did), but rather that God’s love had shone through us to such a degree in other day to day actions and words that our neighbors just assumed that a more extravagant gesture of charity, (remember that the word for love in I Corinthians 13 is translated as charity in the King James Version) even though it was anonymous, must have come from us. That is God’s light shining through us into the world, returning to bless us even as it blesses others through us.

It seems in American culture today that simple friendliness and neighborliness have just about disappeared.

I noticed in myself a tendency to walk through life minimizing my contact with other human beings.  Now this can partly be put down to my innate shyness, but I think that there is more to it than that.  Even people who are quite extroverted and gregarious don’t seem to offer friendly greetings to unknown passersby anymore.

I’ve been making an effort lately not to wrap myself in my own world and problems, but instead to open my heart and mind to even casual meetings.  Who knows when a casual meeting may turn into a divine appointment.  Now I’ve been building all of this up as if it were some deep philosophical/internal shift, but all I’m really talking about doing is saying “Hi,” “Good morning,” “How’s it going?” “Evenin'” etc. to people I come into contact to, even if I don’t know them (yet).

What’s really astonishing is the range of responses to this type of greeting.  Most people smile, do nothing, or increase their pace, but I’ve had a few shoot me dirty looks, a few respond in kind, and a few who have seen that as an opportunity to start a conversation.  In that final case, I try to make time to talk for a little while even if I’m in a hurry… I don’t always share the gospel as a part of every encounter, but I have at least a few times in the last few weeks.

Recently, I was dropping some clothes off for wash-n-fold service at a local laundromat.  On my way in I passed two young ladies who had several (10 or more) trash bags of laundry stacked around their trunk.  After I had set my laundry down by the front counter, I came back just as they had gotten the last bag out of their trunk and onto the sidewalk.  I asked if I could carry some of the bags in for them.  They were astonished.  They agreed, and I loaded up the rest of the bags in both hands and carried them in.  It took me no time at all really, but it made a serious impression on them.  It kind of saddened me that such a simple, normal, mannerly action would be so astonishing, but it did leave me strongly impressed with the witness opportunity that even the smallest act of kindness can open up for us.

Opportunity Encouragement:
When the second lady said “Oh you didn’t have to do that.” I responded, “Well, I felt like God was telling me that I did.” This led very easily and naturally into sharing the truth of the Gospel with them. Laundromats are great places to witness; people are stuck there waiting on their clothes with no place to go and nothing else to do. Even if you typically do your own washing, consider taking your clothes to the laundromat once every other month and then spend some time talking to the people who are there.

Meet Winnie.

Winnie knocked on my door the other night, and when I opened the door she
breathlessly asked “I’m sorry to bother you sir, but is there any chance I
could come in here while the police are talking to my boyfriend.”

Wow! I was nonplussed to say the least.  My first inclination was to say yes and let her in.  My second was to worry about involving my
family with a person whose boyfriend was being questioned by the police.  I didn’t give worry any opportunity to
besiege me.  I let her in immediately and
offered her a chair.

Scriptural Principle:

Hebrews 13:2 “Forget not to show love* unto strangers: for
thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

* The NIV says “to entertain”

She sat down and told me what was going on: She had come home from walking over to the nearby Wendy’s for some dinner to find the police in her apartment and her boyfriend with his hand in the air.  

“I slipped out before they could see me.  Why are the police talking to my boyfriend?”

“Are you OK?” I asked.  

“I’ll be OK; I just—Why are the police in my room?” she was mervously opening and shutting her cell phone.

“Would you like me to go up and find out what’s going on for you?” I asked, but she rather emphatically declined, saying that she just wanted to call her brother to pick her up.  After she had made the call, I asked if I could pray for her.  She was amenable, so I began to pray.  

I prayed for everything I could think of.  For peace and comfort for Winnie, for wisdom for the cops and for her boyfriend and his friend, for speed and safety for her brother.   And then I continued as follows:
“Lord, we know you love us, that you love Winnie, and that your desire for us is for our good.  Thank you that with all of creation at your fingertips you love us so much that you want to have a personal relationship with each one of us, that you care about the details of our lives, that you know Winnie’s situation right now.  Lord we know we don’t deserve your love and relationship, that you are a perfect and just God and we have all done things that break your law and deserve to be punished.  Lord thank you that even though the punishment for breaking your law is death, that you desired a relationship with us so much that you sent your son Jesus Christ who was perfect and had never broken your law so that he could willingly take our punishment so that we wouldn’t have to pay the price for all the bad things that we have done.  Thank you that if we believe that you are who you say you are in your word and if we choose to make you Lord of our lives and if we accept the gift that Jesus made when he died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins that you offer us eternal life with you.  Thank you so much for your mercy, even when we don’t deserve it.”
It may come out a bit contrived here on the page, but when I was praying it was heartfelt, from the spirit, and though I was aware of the fact that it was a witness, I wasn’t praying <i>to</i> witness.  I was praying from my heart to my God.  Nevertheless I realize that it was a witness and I believe that Winnie recognized that I was not pushing at her, but simply praying, interceding for her.  

When I finished praying, my wife came in and asked if she could get Winnie something to drink.  She had already been in our apartment for almost an hour.  My wife made her some tea, and she made a few more phone calls before her brother arrived to take her away.  I gave her my card at some point during all of that, but I found it on the floor of our apartment after she left, so I will probably know how the Spirit used my prayer in her life, and that’s OK, because it’s not about me, it’s about Him.  

I will also just mention that I was so blessed by my wife after Winnie was gone, I really was worried about how my wife would feel about my having just invited her in like that, considering her situation and our family with three young children.  My wife turned to me after she left and said “I feel like maybe I wasn’t hospitable enough to her.  I didn’t even offer her something to drink until she had been here for a whole hour” (like she had had the opportunity!)  I assured her that she had been more than hospitable enough, and my spirit soared to know that I had a wife whose spirit was in harmony with my spirit and the Spirit of God.  What a blessed encounter!