Sunday, March 13, 2011

Living Like a Christian

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8 [AMP]

I first heard the above scripture as a youngster in church.  Of all the theology spoken with much gravitas by our pastor, that one verse had a profound impact upon me.  Here, God is giving us a blueprint for doing what He considers to be good.  We are to practice justice... to love kindness and mercy... and to be humble and not proud and haughty.

Pastor Lon Solomon made note of the attitude of a tax collector in the Bible.  This man, unlike the self-righteous Pharisees, humbled himself before God and prayed, “Be merciful to me, a sinner.”  This man did not approach God in a proud or haughty manner... and as a result, his prayer was honored by God.  As we take on the right attitude, we can be vessels that God can use.

And how can we expect God to use us... even if we are average every day Christians?  We address this question in this week’s blog featuring articles by Pastor Francis Ng, Melody Green and Brotha DC.

Do What is Good
by Pastor Francis Ng

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
Proverbs 3:27 [NKJV]

Dan Clark recalls when he was a teenager, he and his father once stood in line to buy tickets for the circus.  They noticed a poor family immediately in front of them.  The parents were holding hands.  They had eight children, all probably under the age of twelve.

He could tell that the circus was going to be a new adventure for them.  The attendant asked how many tickets they wanted.  The man proudly responded, “I’d like to buy eight children’s tickets and two adult tickets.”

When the attendant quoted the price, the man’s wife let go of his hand and her head drooped.
The man leaned a little closer and asked, “How much did you say?”

The attendant quoted the price again.

The man obviously didn't have the money.  He looked crushed.  Clark says his father watched all this, put his hand in his pocket, pulled out a twenty dollar bill and dropped it on the ground.  His father then reached down, picked up the note, tapped the man on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, I think this must be yours.”

The man knew exactly what was going on.  He looked straight into Clark’s father's eyes, took his hand, shook it, and with a tear streaming down his cheek, replied, “Thank you, thank you, sir.”

“This really means a lot to me and my family.”  Clark and his father went back to their car and drove home.  They didn't have enough money to go to the circus that night, but it didn’t matter. They’d blessed a whole family, and it was something neither family would ever forget.  That is called “doing good.”

The Blizzard of 1985
by Brotha DC

Let us not forget to do good where we have the ability to do so.  Specifically, in reaching out and touching the lives of others. This is not specifically referring to the giving of financial blessings... although that is often needed.  Sometimes it can be as simple as taking a few moments out of our schedules to touch someone’s life in ways that may seem trival... but that often have eternal reverberations.

I was recollecting the Blizzard of 1985 with a friend who was with me in San Antonio Texas during that event.  My friend was amazed at how a normally toasty town in South Texas could be inundated with a historic amount of snow.  But I also remember what appeared to be a homeless bum sitting on the sidewalk near my new apartment, begging for cash.  He had a bottle of booze in his hands and I figured there would be no way I would give my money to support some drunk’s alcohol habit.

Imagine my surprise when the Holy Spirit spoke and directed me to give $50 (a tithe I had set aside for the following Sunday) to the guy.  I figured it had to be a mistake.  I had to be imagining things.  After all, that was God’s money.  But after much prayer, I obeyed God and went back to give the $50 bill to the guy.  Long story short... he was near the end of years of running from God.  He had in his pocket a bottle of pills and was planning on washing down the pills with the vodka and ending his life.  We prayed on that sidewalk and he recommitted his life to Christ.  He took the money to a cheap motel nearby and called his family.  That night was the blizzard that hit San Antonio.  I imagine that, under other circumstances, he would be a frozen corpse.  But thanks be to God who knows each of us and puts His blessings in our path.

One thing that I recall was that this young man had made an earlier attempt at cleaning up... and went to a church requesting help.  He was turned away.  Man, how often do we as Christians wind up dropping the ball and, worse, feeding the atheists (see our book Please Don’t Feed the Atheists (you can click the publications menu at the top of the page).

We recently heard about a divine appointment that Melody Green experienced... she was famished and ready to grab food at a deli when a young woman interrupted her train of thought.  She quickly realized that this woman had a spiritual need and chose to pray with and minister to her rather than give precedence to her growling stomach.  Sound familiar? 

Then the woman left her water jar and went away to the town. And she began telling the people, Come, see a Man Who has told me everything that I ever did! Can this be [is not this] the Christ? [Must not this be the Messiah, the Anointed One?] So the people left the town and set out to go to Him. Meanwhile, the disciples urged Him saying, Rabbi, eat something. But He assured them, I have food (nourishment) to eat of which you know nothing and have no idea. So the disciples said one to another, Has someone brought Him something to eat? Jesus said to them, My food (nourishment) is to do the will (pleasure) of Him Who sent Me and to accomplish and completely finish His work.
John 4:28-34 [AMP]

As you spend time in prayer this week, ask the Lord to show you ways that you might touch someone’s life.  Whether it is a financial blessing... a prayer... or whatever, be a vessel of the love of God manifest in this world.

My Most Recent Divine Appointment
by Melody Green

Last week my friend Paulette and I were running late and had not eaten anything before we left her house.  So we stopped en route to grab something quick at a small deli she liked. Just as we were about to walk in, an upbeat voice called out to us from the open window of a parked car.

“Hey, that’s a great place you’re gonna love it!” 

We nodded and gave a faint (hungry) wave back.

“I just had the little dumplings on the left side of the counter, but the salad with the nuts is great too,” the voice continued.  We paused at the deli door. “Everything is so good there… sorry for rambling, my mom just died, but you can’t go wrong at this place.  It’s the best.”

We started towards the curb as she continued recommending menu items.

“I’m in culinary school here, and this place is so…”

Stepping towards her, I interrupted, “Excuse me, did you just say your mom died?”

“Yes mam, this morning,” she said, as we inched our way to her car door and listened as her story unfolded.

Her name was Keisha and her mom, who’d recently been diagnosed with cancer, had been rushed to the hospital that morning.  They talked and prayed on the phone together and Keisha told her mom she’d be on a plane that afternoon to come see her. But another call came just a few hours later.  Her mom had slipped into a coma and died.

The sun was beating down hard on Paulette and me as we told Keisha how sorry we were for her loss.  She slipped out of her car and continued with her tragic story.  Her fiancĂ© was just back from Iraq, mending from a gunshot wound, and they’d planned to travel to her mom’s for Thanksgiving so her mom and family could meet him.

Understanding how loss felt, I put my arm around her, and the next second she fell sobbing into both of our arms. “I believe in Jesus and go to church but the devil is trying to destroy me.  But he’s not gonna get the victory,” she declared. “I’m not going to let him win!”

Now that we were holding her, I could smell something stale, like old whisky on her t-shirt, and she was out of it with grief and whatever she’d used to numb the pain in her life.  But the Lord had us there to stand with her in her grief and comfort her breaking heart.  It seemed surreal.

We asked if we could pray for her and she said, “Yes. Yes, please.”

So there we stood, in a parking lot praying for Keisha her and her whole family.  We thanked God for sparing her fiancĂ©’s life and identified with her great loss. We shared our faith and assured her that God totally loved her – and wanted all of her heart to be His.  It was somehow clear she’d been dabbling on the dark side and that a battle was going on for her soul, perhaps for a very long time.

It was a sensitive moment.  Not a time to preach or correct.  But her heart was soft and God gave us the words to gently remind her that Jesus wanted to be her only one – and to let everything else, not of Him, go. And she agreed and fought for herself with us in prayer.

“Something told me you ladies were safe,” she said, lifting her head. “That’s why I kept calling out to you, trying to get your attention.”  She started thanking the Lord for sending us to her.  “It’s exactly what I needed,” she said.  “Thank you Jesus!”

About 40 minutes later we said goodbye. I thought about how easy it would have been to totally ignore Keisha and plow forward into the deli.  To hear the growl of our stomachs instead of hearing those few sad words, tucked inside the cheerful-sounding voice of a stranger.  Instead of the hearing the Holy Spirit.

It’s so easy to miss the moment. To miss God.  I’ve missed Him before, more than I could ever possibly know.  But not last week.  God wanted to touch Keisha last week and we didn’t let Him down. It felt really good to know we played a small, but strategic part, in a painful part of someone else's journey.

Internationally known author, minister and songwriter Melody Green has traveled to over 30 nations to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Her best selling book, “No Compromise. The Life Story of Keith Green” has been translated into numerous languages.  This article was reprinted by permission from Last Days Ministries’ November e-letter. For more information on Melody and her prolific ministry materials, visit 

Spiritual Meanies
by Brotha DC

I was reading a political blog and the topic of evangelical Christians came up. The writer, who presumably was not a believer, wailed about how so many people who call themselves Christians do lots of things... but the one thing that they don’t do is follow the teachings of Jesus.

I stopped and thought about that. We do so many things in His name except the one thing that He said would be a sign of our being connected to Him.

I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].
John 13:34-25 [AMP]

That made me think both of my lack of love... and of experiences from spiritual meanies that I have encountered over the years...

You know the type. They look as if they have been baptized in pickle juice. They frown and scowl. They never offer positive encouragement but, rather, are quick with the put-downs and condemnation.

Look at that whore on the street corner...

Why, that ugly old drunk needs to go somewhere and sober up...

Those kids with the tattoos and the BB’s through their noses oughta be ashamed, walking around looking like that.

I have experienced people wagging their finger at me to point out some (real or percieved) sin in my life. Hey pal, how about praying that we all are stronger in our walk?

Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose].
Proverbs 27:17 [AMP]

I remember as an undergrad in Washington DC, I got through college by the skin of my financial teeth. But I trusted God and He provided. Granted, I never received enough salary or stipend to maintain a bank account, so I cashed each check I received. In DC at that time, liquor stores were authorized by the District to cash checks. Granted, a lot of poor people would go in with some sort of subsistence check and come out with an arm full of booze... but some people were mostly honest in that regard.

Well, a sister in Christ confronted me after church with her finger pointed in my face.

“A-ha!” she exclaimed. “You’re supposed to be a CHRISTIAN! But I saw you go into the liquor store!

I asked, “Did you also see me exit the store?”

“Yes,” she replied.

“Was I carrying any liquor?” I asked.

She realized that I was not. I explained that I simply cashed my ROTC stipend. And she went away sorrowful... because she didn’t have occasion to accuse her brother.

Whoa! Don’t you think maybe she might have gone to her prayer closet and said, “Father, I don’t know if my brother has sin in his life... or if there is some problem that has taken his eyes off of You and made him seek the bottle. In any instance, I just pray his strength in the name of Jesus.”

But, in reality, how often do we ever do that? Most of the time, we are quick to judge, and then thank God that we are not as bad a sinner as the other guy. Whoa! Are we so self-righteous that we don’t realize that we are all saved by grace... and were it not for God’s grace we would all be a disgrace?

Let’s not be Christian meanies. Let’s not act like self-righteous weenies. But let us be quick to intercede for each other and (most importantly) love one another with humble spirits and godly fear.

Two men went up into the temple [enclosure] to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men--extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers--or even like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain. But the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am! I tell you, this man went down to his home justified (forgiven and made upright and in right standing with God), rather than the other man; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Luke 18:10-14 [AMP]

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