The Lady Behind the Door

I am not sure of the year, but the event echoes in my mind. It was a warm day under the hot Nevada sun. I had heard about a home Bible study group that was in a small senior apartment complex in the southern part of Henderson, Nevada. I attended a large church in Vegas and thought it would be great to get into a smaller group to actually form relationships with other people, instead of just being part of an unknown crowd.

So, I typed in the address that I had found on the website, into my cell phone’s GPS. I found the apartment complex easy enough and parked in one of the many spaces available. I had the number of the building and of the apartment, but once I walked into the courtyard, I wasn’t clear which building was which.  I figured I would simply knock on a door with the same number in hopes that I was at the correct building.

An elderly lady came to the door. I asked her if this was the apartment that was hosting a Bible study. When she told me it wasn’t, I thanked her and began to turn around to continue my search. But instead, the frail old lady looking back at me through the crack in the door asked if I could please come in and help her. She had wanted to watch a movie but didn’t know how to work her remote, nor was she sure which remote went to which TV or DVD or VCR player.

I hesitated because I was already late but couldn’t ignore the pleading in her eyes. She pulled the door  wide open to welcome me into her home.  As my eyes began to adjust to the darkness of her home from the bright sun outside, I saw her despair. I cautiously walked behind her as she led me into her tiny studio apartment. In that one-room home was a small kitchen on one side and a mattress on the floor on the other side with one lone chair. It was positioned in front of two old CRT television sets, each sitting on separate portable metal stands. One had a VCR player connected to it and the other had a DVD player connected to it. And cluttered on all the open floor space was jumbled stacks and stacks and stacks of movies, some were VHS movies while others were DVDs.

She told me she had wanted to watch a particular movie but wasn’t sure which remote went to which TV and/or which video system. I am not real savvy but thought I could try to help her. She mentioned that she was going to have someone come by but wasn’t sure when they would be there. And so, I set my purse and my bible on the floor and tried to figure it out for her. After several minutes it was all sorted out and she thanked me and then wanted to just talk. I listened to her stories and found out that in her younger years she had actually been a cook for a time for BB King. She proudly pointed to a lone picture of the singer on the otherwise empty walls.

We chit chatted a bit more as she walked me the few steps back to the front door. Because I don’t believe there is ever a coincidence in a believer’s’ life, I asked her if she knew Jesus and if she wanted prayer. She said yes to both. So, in the small dark studio apartment we prayed together. Tears streamed down her cheeks. We hugged before she left, and she asked if I could stop by again sometime. I nodded in agreement, thinking I probably would be here again anyway.

Surprisingly as I turned around, after she closed the door behind me, I saw the number of the apartment I had been searching for in the beginning.

I thought I would return the next time I came to the Bible study. And I want to proudly say, “I did return, and we became close friends”.  Wasn’t this a “God ordained meeting”? But instead, I have to report that I never did go back. The meeting moved locations and busyness took my time from me. After several months I forgot and eventually moved away. Sometimes it really bothers me. How could I not return? How could I forget a lonely person that longed for companionship? I can only hope and pray that God heard her heart, and though I know God forgives me I was not the blessed person to meet her need.

Fast forward several years later to December 2022 and several states north. I am attending a small church in the great northwest and have had the opportunity to create lasting friendships. From those friendships I was invited to a Christmas painting party. I love to paint, especially with friends. It sounded marvelous. One of those friends offered to give me a ride. She had been to the house before, so I gladly accepted.

The snow blanketed the roads, so it was difficult to find parking. She remembered though that there was an open parking lot near the home that was hosting the party. That was convenient. So, we parked and marched through the heavy drifting snow. We were coming in a bit late, so instead of knocking on the door we thought we would just let ourselves into the home.

My friend went ahead of me and announced our presence. Except there was no party there. There were no people. Were they in the back of the house? And then we heard a lady frantically asking who was in her home.

“Oh no,” my friend said frantically, “this isn’t the right house!”

I was hysterical. Part of me was laughing uncontrollably. The other part was anxious, and I pushed my way in front of my friend running towards the front door, loudly whispering behind me, “hurry”!

She, on the other hand, was trying to apologize and explain our plight. I hurried out the front door and hopped like a bunny through the deep snow, which I had previously dredged through, back to the parking lot and back to the safety of her car.  My friend was trailing behind me at a slower pace. I was still laughing uncontrollably when I opened her passenger car door and ducked under the dash. We could hear the owner of the house holler from her front door,

 “Are you the people who were in my house?”

My friend apologized and said she thought it belonged to a friend and she was sorry.

We did eventually find the house, which was only a few houses over. After the party my friend thought it would be nice to bring over some cookies and apologize again. I was not in agreement but followed behind her. My thought, let bygones be bygones.  

We knocked this time and an elderly lady, in her pjs and pulling an oxygen tank behind her opened the door. As my friend apologized again offering her a peace-offering of cookies she also asked if she knew Jesus. The lady said she did, but she had to stay at home these days because of her health and the weather. She watched on TV or online but didn’t have many visitors. I suddenly remembered that tiny frail woman in Nevada who longed for companionship, who was deeply touched when I prayed for her.

My aloofness turned into compassionate boldness. This was my opportunity to pray.  After getting her permission, I came into her home (invited). I held her hand as I began to pray. This was an individual whom God loves and did not forget but I felt the weight of loneliness surround her. Tears filled her lonely eyes, and she thanked us.

What is the takeaway from this? For me there are many things.

  1. There are a lot of people in this world…a lot of people going through heartaches. I hope to return and visit this lady, and that is our plan. We NEED one another. Look for opportunities to spread hope.
  2. Be ready in season and out as found in 2 Timothy 4:2 ” Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.” (NIV)
  3. When or if you make a mistake, ask for forgiveness and move on. I would have loved to return to the lady at the door in Nevada. But, though I didn’t I believe God still comforted her, but I missed out on the blessing.
  4. 1 Corinthians 1:27 sure comes in play. “Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” (NLT) Both of us looked so foolish but in the end the lady was blessed.

Know this: If he can use me, he sure can use you. Be ready.

Happy 2023.

God Bless.

To Love or To Hate

Radio Show Host: That person is walking in outright disgusting sin.

Radio Show Guest: Is it okay for me to hate him?

Radio Show Host: I would say, yes. It cannot be tolerated. In fact, I would like the audience to join me in mailing this person a letter telling him that he is going to hell. I am going to do that as soon as I get off the air.

Wow!

These words, though somewhat paraphrased because real names are not used, blew my mind! I was randomly going through radio stations and came across this Christian station. I was surprised. I have heard of individuals who have acted this way, but never really understood how this concept can exist in the Christian realm.

Don’t get me wrong, I have had my share of this attitude staring me down. I have had people from church hang up on me, speak evil about me, turn me away, gossip, accuse me and criticize those whose lives are dedicated to the Lord.

But I took it all in stride, knowing that I was only accountable for my heart, that these individuals did not represent all believers and that we are all subject to fall. And so, I walked away from those with this attitude. That is not to say that I didn’t get hurt at times.

BUT –

It has also been church going Christians who have encouraged me and prayed for me and with me. Those I choose to rub shoulders with are those that have experienced their own difficult times yet have risen up as warriors and overcomers, filled with COMPASSION for the lost. They are those that believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of prayer and the power of God’s undying LOVE.

LOVE is the key. God is love.

It is because of HIS love for each of us that Jesus came to earth to die so that we can escape sin and death. I have heard testimonies from individuals who have had near death experiences. They desperately try to explain how MUCH the Lord really LOVEs each of us.

It is his kindness that leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4) Condemnation will never lead to repentance. People who feel condemned always put up walls. I know, Ive been there. Love doesn’t condemn, that is the enemy of our souls who uses that measure.

BUT –

Love doesn’t compromise with sin either. That is also the enemy’s tool. All the talk about tolerance is dangerous because at times it means to tolerate sin. Compromise is an open door to confusion.

So, if we aren’t to walk in hateful anger towards those who flaunt sin as the opening statements suggested, and we are not to tolerate sin in our lives, nor compromise with it, something Jesus never did, what are we supposed to do?

How are we to love those that mock our Lord, those that make it their business to attack our values, or those that walk with arrogance or self-righteousness?

My personal answer: We fall in love with the one who IS love. IF we are consumed with HIM, HIS love flows out of us for others.

How can we accomplish this? It is by building a relationship with God. The way we build relationships is by spending time with those we say we love. In the case of our Lord it is through prayer or talking with him and reading his love letters (the Bible) and by being around those who have the same desire.

The Lord gives us the ability.

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Consider Steven who was the first martyr for Christ. He was so deeply in love with his Lord that he didn’t compromise his stand for Christ; he also didn’t retaliate in vengeance.

And as the murderous stones came hurtling at him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And he fell to his knees, shouting, ‘Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!’ and with that, he died.” Acts 7:59-60 (TLB)

I want to learn to love others with the Lord’s pure love. Am I willing to die for those who hurl insults or attack my way of life or verbally abuse those I love? Jesus loved so much he died for us WHILE we were sinners.

That kind of love does not attack others, BUT it also doesn’t compromise in sin nor agree with those that do. The more we fall in love with the Lord, the more we desire to become like him. Ultimate love would be to say like Steven, “Do not charge them with this sin.” It is also standing strong, as he did, WITHOUT compromising. Instead, we should desire to help those in bondage to become free.

“that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:26

Father in Heaven, I ask that you baptize your people with your love so that we walk in its purity, not condemning those who are confused or lost, but instead, by your grace, mercy and wisdom, directing them to the way of freedom and truth. Amen

For God SO LOVED the world…

God Bless.

Do nice guys finish last?

I used to wake up every morning and ask the Lord to help me to be “nice”. You see I worked in the customer service department and well, if you work with customers you have to put on your “nice” face. And some of the individuals that worked with me were not the easiest to get along with either. So I just wanted to be able to be nice to those around me, and learn to be nice in general.

I thought I was getting one step ahead as I began each day. It was all good until I mentioned it to someone— interchanging the words nice and kind. The individual casually mentioned that being nice and being kind are two different actions. Apparently they weren’t synonyms like I assumed. I was stumped and decided that I would do some of my own research on the subject.

I started in the dictionary and found that a couple of the definitions for the word nice are pleasant and agreeable. Hmm. That seems right. But I cannot be agreeable on all things with all people. A few sites explained nice as being polite with good manners.

If you look at the life of Jesus you would find that he wasn’t pleasant or agreeable all the time. Truth was far more important to him than simply being pleasant or agreeable or even polite. What happened when Jesus found the money changers in the temple?

“So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their table. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”  John 2:14-17 (NIV)

Wow, that wasn’t very nice!

Nor was he nice when he told the Pharisees that they were hypocrites or whitewashed tombs. Nor was he nice when he looked at Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Matthew 16:23 (NLT)  There were many other occasions when he did things that may not have seemed polite, agreeable or pleasant.

Why?

Because he didn’t come to this earth to be pleasant. He is not Santa Claus, trying to spread Christmas cheer.  He came to bring truth. Many people DON’T want to be told truth. They just want to hear wonderful things.

“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. they will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3 (NLV)

There are a lot of NICE Christians and NICE churches. I have heard it said that we should just accept people the way they are PERIOD. Churches are being consumed with fun activities to draw in the lost– all the while sin is  being ignored.

If a baker chooses not to make a cake for an event that bothers his conscience he is considered intolerant or to put is simply — “not nice” and can be sued. We shouldn’t talk about conviction, about sin, about changing our hearts, about sacrifice or eternity. Someone might get offended and that isn’t nice.

Why can’t we all just be NICE?

The problem with just being nice is that it is a facade. There is no substance in it. So when you are having a bad day niceness can turn into ugliness in a minute flat. I’ve had people be nice to me one minute and the very next want to claw out my eyeballs. On the flip side, I’ve been the nice person, biting my tongue, becoming a push over so I could appear pleasant and yet squirming inside.

I continued my research, this time from the Bible. Of course I didn’t find the actual word nice, but I knew the word kind or kindness was there. Most believers are aware that kindness is one of the attributes of the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Nice on the other hand, not being part of the fruit of the Spirit, has no strength or foundation. It is like building your house on the sand and not on the rock of Christ. (Matthew 7:24-27) When a storm comes, nice will not suffice.

Kindness led by the Holy Spirit is a God-given quality of compassion, generosity and understanding. It is considerate, not expecting anything in return. It far exceeds the act of just being nice.

Jesus showed these qualities. He forgave the adulteress but warned her to sin no more. He wasn’t just being nice, telling her that he accepted her lifestyle. But he was filled with kindness and forgiveness.

He showed kindness to the lost, kindness to the broken, kindness towards the sick and even the lepers (which was unheard of), kindness towards the tax collectors and those that were rejected by the world. He gathered the little children around him and showed them love and acceptance when the disciples were telling them to leave him alone.

Yet people wanted him dead! Why? He had healed the sick and even brought some back to life. But they wanted him dead because he had disrupted their lives. He had offended them by speaking truth. Truth STILL offends people today because sometimes it isn’t NICE.

People want to shut down the voice of truth.

Digging deeper I discovered this on wordcentral.com:

Main Entry: nice
Pronunciation: primarystressnimacrs
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English nice “foolish, stupid,” from early French nice (same meaning), from Latin nescius “ignorant,” from nescire “not to know,” from ne- “not” and scire “to know” –related to SCIENCE
1 : finicky in tastes or habits
2 a : not obvious : SUBTLE <a nice distinction> b : having the ability to notice small differences <a nice ear for music>
3 : PLEASING, AGREEABLE <a nice time> <a nice person>
4 : well behaved : RESPECTABLE <wasn’t a nice thing to do>
nice·ly adverb
nice·ness noun
Word History Five hundred years ago, when nice was first used in English, it meant “foolish or stupid.” This is not as surprising as it may seem, since it came through early French from the Latin nescius, meaning “ignorant.” By the 16th century, the sense of being “very particular” or “finicky” had developed. In the 19th century, nice came to mean “pleasant or agreeable” and then “respectable,” a sense quite unlike its original meaning.

After reading the word history I realized that every morning when I was asking the Lord to make me nice, maybe I was really asking him to make me foolish, stupid, ignorant or perhaps finicky and at best agreeable or pleasant. Blah.

It makes me think about Garth Brook’s song, “Unanswered Prayers”. Anyway God knew my heart. He knew what I really wanted was to learn to be kind.  And he allowed me to go through circumstances that would help me to understand what kindness vs niceness was really all about.

So back to the question from the title: Do nice guys finish last? I would say, yes they do UNLESS they walk in the fruit of the Spirit of kindness, as well. Don’t get me wrong I believe that being polite, having manners and being pleasant are fine qualities and should be part of our lives. But just being nice will not sustain you in this world. It will gobble you up.

“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Romans 2:4 (NLT)

“Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ.” Ephesians 4:32 (TLB)

Lord, teach me to be kind.

Amen and God bless.