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.

One of the ways that I reach out to my neighbors is by providing free copies of God’s word.  I have a stack of Bibles in our front window (visible from the parking lot), with a sign in front of them that says “Free Bibles, just ask.”  In the last week I’ve given away two free copies of the Word of God. 

Scriptural Principle:
Isaiah 55:10-11For as the rain cometh
down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth
the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, and giveth seed to the
sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not
return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and
it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

I get my copies of the Bible from the dollar store.  They have King James version Bibles for $1 each.  Small price to pay for such a powerful weapon in the battle for the hearts and minds of people God loves. 

However, some people might be better able to read and understand if I was able to offer a more modern translation.  If you know of a cheap source of modern language Bibles such as New King James, NIV, or NAS or if you would like to donate copies please get in touch with me at extendedstayevangelist@webtooldeveloper.com.

I haven’t blogged in quite some time.  Part of the reason for that is that my internet connection at this place is (to put it mildly) quirky, which makes using web applications like xanga less than perfectly easy.  But another part of it was that I began to question my own motives in blogging about my experiences.  I don’t want to give even the appearance of evil (Though 1 Thessalonians 5:22 does not actually refer to avoiding appearances†), and I was concerned that I might appear to be self-seeking or proud which is not my intention and might actually do the opposite of what I intended.

I have come to the conclusion though that it is more important to exhort and build up than to be concerned about someone thinking I’m self-aggrandizing. 

Scriptural Principle:
1
Thessalonians 5:11
“Wherefore exhort one another, and build
each other up, even as also ye do.”

The reason I write posts like Why Extended Stay Evangelist and Unhalloween is to exhort my brothers in Christ, as I examine my own life and see where God is leading and directing me to exhort others to examine their own hearts and see if perhaps God is leading them in the same direction and we can share the journey.  The reason why I write posts like Winnie and First Contact is to encourage and to receive encouragement. 

So, I will continue to share with you my efforts, my successes and failures, and my insight from God’s word.

† See http://www.crivoice.org/appearance.html for an explanation

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!