linvilles in prayer

What we learn as we pray.

linvilles in Love with cheerful giving

On the sidebar to your right, you will notice a convenient PayPal “donate” button that you may use to give us money. Why should you be so generous? Because we see this everyday and we want to end it:

Nope. He's not trying to give me money.

Nope. He’s not trying to give me money.

If we don't reach out, she reaches in!

If we don’t reach out, she reaches in!

What would you do if she were your grandmother?

How long can you look into her eyes without feeling?

…But who are these people?

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.” …“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. ’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you? ’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. ’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25:31-33; 41-46, ESV.

They are the least of these. In their own way, they are emissaries of my King, and as I do unto them, so I do unto my Lord!

However, notice what the verse above does not say: it does not say “give money;” but perhaps Jesus addressed that here:

“And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Matthew 5:40-42, ESV, emphasis mine

I think it’s purposefully vague and therefore meant to be more encompassing than not, so yeah, Jesus knew we’d be faced with opportunities to give money and wanted us to take those opportunities to love others.

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’—when you already have it with you.” Proverbs 3:27-28, ESV

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18, ESV

To be clear, the Apostle John is teaching that we not love in word or talk ONLY, but ALSO in deed and in truth. If there’s no verbal Christian witness behind my generosity then I get the glory for my good actions instead of God, and I want God to get all the glory.

When my generosity is empowered by the joy of the Lord and established in the promises of Christ, I ALWAYS have something to give, even if I have no money on me:

“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” Acts 3:1-8, ESV, emphasis mine

And this is the point:

I shouldn’t give as the world gives!

To bring this around full circle: Christ calls me to do more than just give money:

He calls me EAT with the poor; welcome the stranger into my home; CLOTHE the naked; and VISIT the sick and imprisoned! What’s terrifying is that Matthew 25 explicitly describes these behaviors as evidences of salvation!

Let that sink in a minute. Now rejoice with me for our Savior Jesus Christ!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10, ESV

Rejoice! God’s worked this out. When I don’t have the ability (or time) to break bread and dress up naked, sick, or imprisoned strangers, it’s okay. God knows. What’s important is my heart. Do I care about the least of these? Am I planning ahead to make time to serve them?

Here’s my confession: I don’t.

I don’t care about the least of these – especially not the way Christ cares for them. Those pictures above were not taken so I could share them with you. I took those pictures because it makes [most] of the least of these go away. Here’s the usual response:

Can you love him?

Can you love him?

It might be hard to tell, but the tall man was upset with me for getting my camera out. What’s easier to see is the shame/resignation in the smaller man’s downcast eyes. They were not feeling loved, and I didn’t love them–but I gave them money.

And this has been one of the most transformative realizations that I’ve ever had about giving:

“You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.” Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

After my field supervisor shared this with me, I wrote it on our refrigerator. I read that sentence everyday, and God used those words to change me. If I want to love and I want to give out of love, then I must give. What must I give?

Myself.

Money is the bunny slope of generosity. Since it’s just a means to an end, money is a 3rd party, distant, and cold gesture of pity. The lost and starving least of these in South Asia don’t need money. They need love. They need love to feed them, give them drink, invite them in, clothe them, and visit them in their distress.

Money is a curse when I use it as a shield. Money is a blessing when I use it as a sword.

Shield money is defensive, unproductive, and passive. Sword money is offensive, progressive, proactive, and intentional.

Here’s where you come in.

1. Pray for me and my family. We must be love to the least of these. We need Jesus to show us how we too were poor, blind, and naked before he saved us. In this we can relate to every broken person we meet: we’re all equally hopeless without Jesus!

2. Donate to our ministry. Yes, we need your money, but it’s not to buy name brand caffeine or kick-starter gadgets. I’ve even been rebuked and corrected for my Romans 13:8 blunder – so it’s not even to help us pay down my student loan debt. When you donate, you decide how we pay it forward. If you don’t specify, we’ll use your benevolence to FEED, INVITE, CLOTHE, & VISIT. Otherwise, here’s what’s going on:

The Deep Tube Well Project!

A tube well is like sticking a straw into the earth. The straw is PVC piping and the depth is between 800 and 1,000 feet! The wells need to be this deep to avoid the arsenic deposits that are present between 100 and 700 feet. We’re hoping to donate ten deep tube wells to villages in the southern division of the country. We’ve completed seven, and already a few have broken.

Student loans are a nightmare, but it is the only debt we have. At the time of this update (Feb 12, 2015), it amounts to $20,580.14 and it grows about $2.30 per day, but we’re currently only able to put $5 per day ($1,825/year) toward it. If you have experience in financial counseling, we’d appreciate any help you can offer, just leave a comment so we can connect with you. If you can afford to send some money our way, we would be incredibly grateful! If you understand the horrific burden of this type of debt, then please pray for us!

Helping us eliminate this debt is giving to missions.

We earnestly desire to conform to Romans 13:8 and we believe that this is the only stipulation given in Scripture for NOT giving! We must pay off those who already have a legal claim on our income before we can do anything else. Therefore, if you are in debt, don’t give to us! Get out of debt first, then stay our of debt! I definitely need to write a whole post on this, and if you disagree, please explain why in the comments (it will enrich the aforementioned upcoming post)! In short, the faster we get out of debt, the quicker we will be free to begin wisely lifting up the financially destitute multitudes around us in the name of Jesus. But how will we do that? Freeing up $5/day doesn’t seem like much lifting power. Wrong.

Five dollars a day can make a huge difference.

Since moving overseas, we’ve learned that our charity should never pass directly from us to the poor, but should always go to them through the local church; and only AFTER we’ve prayed, shared our specific intentions with our stateside home church and church partners, prayed again, and shared our intentions with the local pastor here. Using this accountability,

  • we are able to receive wisdom several times over before giving anything,
  • we engage more of the Body of Christ in our work,
  • we shower the giving in prayer,
  • we submit ourselves to the local church to encourage its authority in Christ, and
  • we then give to the local church.

Giving to the poor through the existing local church here affirms that the local church is the vehicle for administering God’s love; not us outsiders. Your donations will be used to open doors, and through those doors we will walk, and everywhere we walk we preach Christ.

Categories: linvilles in fellowship, linvilles in giving, linvilles in life, linvilles in prayer, linvilles in scripture, linvilles in sharing the gospel | Leave a comment

linvilles in Love with numerical palindromes

11:11am and 11 seconds on November 11, 2011 is quite a spectacular numerical palindrome (as long as you drop the 20 from 2011, lol): 11:11:11~11/11/11. YES! ‘Tis an event 100 yrs in the making! Unfortunately, I missed it by 23 minutes. Fortunately, I missed it because of Andy McKee’s YouTube video “Africa.” It is also spectacular, along with his other musical masterpieces. Regardless, life goes on.

Life is certainly going on with the linvilles. As of late, we’ve been informed that our preliminary overseas assignment for my M.Div. studies will be in Bangladesh. More about that later. Presently, I have 400 pages to read, two papers to write, two final exams to take and one more class next semester until I’m done with campus based credit hours!!! YES! We begin our mandatory international meetings on Monday, 11/14/11; I’m very excited.

Mrs. linville did spectacular at the craft and back sale! We were hoping for her to make at least $25 to cover the costs of her materials (and the $6 fee to be in the sale). She brought home $238. OH YEAH! My wife rocks. Check out her Etsy store at:

Baby linville is so cute it slays me. His personality shows through more everyday. So far he seems like quite the extrovert, but not in a “look at me” kinda way (as I was), but in a “who are you?” kinda way. He will be 1 in a mere 11 days. He knows me as “Papa” and Mrs. linville as “Mama.” He’s also adopted our neighbors the Smith(s) and the Cooper(s) as family members, rushing to their doors to drum his “hello” whenever he escapes out into the hall. He loves to look through and chew on books. He’s been clapping a lot and raising both arms up whenever anyone goes “yyaaaayyy!” He uses his cute little laugh to make others laugh. So far he has a record of six unassisted steps. He’s trying to walk without help more and more. Every little milestone is just so exciting!!!

I thank all those who have been praying for me as I seek to lead Mrs. linville well, living with her knowingly, pointing her to Christ. God has been intervening. Your prayers are being answered, praise Him! and keep praying.

Please pray for us as we seek the Lord together as a young family. Pray that I lead my family well, prayerfully stepping with Mrs. linville to make decisions that honor Christ, in both the big issues and in the small. Pray for us as we continue on through our church’s assessment process, as well as the I.M.B. application process. There is a great deal of paper work that requires a whole bunch of archeology.

We thank all of you for your sincere love and support.

in Love

the linville(s)

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linvilles in Love with failure

To all of those who faithfully remembered us in prayer: thank you.

To all of those who sacrificially gave to us: thank you.

To all of those who loved us enough to regularly engage us in soul strengthening dialogue (late into the night): thank you.

To all of these we pray: may God overwhelm you with His blessed presence and Love. We certainly felt God’s Love through you!

But what follows is not happy or pleasant, but quite difficult to disclose. I pray that God would be glorified in the disclosure.

The linville(s) are not going to 中国/中华 China.

I take responsibility for this.

I learned about the trip through our church in August and I decided then and there that we would go. I prayed about it afterwards, but not initially and not with my wife. In that alone, I greatly dishonored God and failed my wife, but there is more.

Not only did I “prayerfully” pursue this in my own strength, but I continually forgot to include my wife.

In the Bible, 1 Peter 3:7 says, “husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way” (ESV). The NIV, which translates more idiomatically, says, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives.”

In this I greatly failed. I know my bride. I know how she thinks and how much she appreciates having a few days to consider things before acting on them. How, if she’s forced into making a decision, it will constantly nag at her because she hasn’t spent the time she needs to think about it and pray through it for herself.

As August passed by with its many blessings and trials, we entered September which was when we were to meet with pastor Travis who leads our church in missions. I had forgotten about this meeting and was reminded by Heather, Travis’s secretary, the day before. That’s when I told my bride about the trip for the first time.

We prayed about it then. We prayed about it before the meeting. That was it. God, in His infinite power and mercy, gave my wife peace about going. Excitement even. He had given me a second chance to be proactive. Again, I blew it.

“But how!?” you might be thinking, “now she knows!”

This time I blew it by failing to lead my family. After that first meeting, we got home spiritually charged and ready, but emotional highs are fleeting and easily thwarted. Life distracted me. I distracted me. If anyone has ever tried to raise support before, you know how proactive you must be, and I was not being proactive.

In the end, Mrs. linville had to do it, and she did it out of desperation. She did it because the due date for our first $500 was in a week and I still hadn’t sent anything out. You ask, “what were you thinking? That the money would just appear?” I wish I could say even that! Even that would be better than what I must confess!

The problem was that I wasn’t thinking about China at all! The need to raise support had completely fallen off my radar! I have no excuse for this. I was completely irresponsible to prayerfully lead my wife and raise support.

Nevertheless, I was stubborn. After sending out the support email, we still had to turn in the $500 support to the church. Instead of backing out immediately, I thought (I stated thinking again!) God might still work a miracle. Therefore, I wrote a check for $400 (everything in our account) and turned it in, thinking that God just needed to see our faith in Him and He’d provide.

Again, 1 Peter 3:7; I failed to be considerate of my wife. Now, I did this with her consent, she knew that God could provide, but I did not do this with her. Instead of walking down the road of life hand in hand, I had thrown my bride over my shoulder and was running around blindfolded. She did not appreciate that.

If that weren’t enough, all this came out the weekend of our interviews with the International Mission Board, to be considered for full time vocational missionary service! We were running late, trying to get ready, and it felt like there was a wall between us.

It got to a place where I had to call a time-out. Something was wrong and everything needed to stop until it was made right. Seeing this opportunity, my wife poured out her heart to me. Through tears she shared how my actions (and lack thereof) had greatly hurt her. She felt trapped and she felt no peace about going China.

Broken at really seeing my wife’s pain, I realized how stupid I had been. I could finally think clearly. We didn’t need to go to China; not on this trip. Holding my bride, we talked and agreed together that we should back out. Immediately, a huge weight was lifted off my chest. I could tell that my wife felt the same way.

The atmosphere of the entire evening changed from a cold lonely stiffness to a warm inviting embrace. There’s no situation that God can’t use or overcome to get glory for His name. I write about my failure to magnify God’s success. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30, ESV). He is always the hero and I rejoice that He saves my family from my failure.

Now, when I recall my epic failure, I see God’s love and I can be in Love with it. So, here’s to God’s great mercy in not only forgiving us for our failures, but also using our failures to move us into a deeper relationship with Him!

in Love

the linville(s)

Categories: linvilles in giving, linvilles in life, linvilles in prayer | Leave a comment

linvilles in Love with tom

Last Thursday, Ross and I met Tom. He is first mentioned in linvilles in Love with new friends (3rd paragraph). We met Tom in Raleigh, on the corner of Durant Rd. and Capital Blvd. He was just walking along when I saw him, and then the Holy Spirit moved me: “Yeah, get him” was the impression I got. I told Ross to get his attention and see if he wanted a ride. He certainly did.

I will not put a picture of Tom up, but he’s a good looking guy of 24 years; very friendly southern drawl that bespeaks of intelligence, despite expletives. He was so nicely dressed that one could’ve thought him just another extremely environmentally conscious fellow walking to work, if not for the bags he carried. He unhesitatingly jumped into the car with a big smile and an unapologetic openness in expressing what he needed.

Tom wanted us to take him south. Our destination was north. We went south, but not as far as he wanted. Veder (1995 Volvo station wagon) is no longer a long distance kind of car. Tom was good at small talk. He told us about the hard times he’d been experiencing: getting kicked out by his mom, getting in with a bad crowd, getting a DUI, losing his driver’s license; with no explanation for why he was kicked out by his mom to begin with.

We dropped him off at the bus station in the Triangle Town Center Mall’s outer loop. On the way, we attempted to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He thwarted this with a plethora of exclamations that he was indeed a “born again Christian,” which clearly contradicted the lifestyle he had just described; but that didn’t seem to bother him as he now divulged to us his abounding Christian devotion. We parted ways after exchanging cell phone numbers. Yes, he had a cell phone.

Working with homeless people in the past, and knowing how they can often just disappear, I assumed that this would be the last time I would see Tom. It wasn’t.

Driving home from work on Monday, I received a call. The caller ID read “Tom” so I answered: “(Hello, this is Mr. linville.)” Silence. “(Mr. linville here, is anyone there?)”

(~Side note: Ross told me that since I’m recalling this dialog from memory, I should use “(…)” instead of just “…” ~)

“(Uh, is Mr. linville there?)” came the response.

“(Yes, this is Mr. linville. Who is this?)” A car honked on the other end.

“(Hey, I need to speak to Mr. linville. Is this Mr. linville’s phone?)”

“(Yes, it is, and this is Mr. linville speaking.)”

“(Dude, it’s Tom. Hey, I’m sorry to bother ya, but I’m not gonna lie, I need some help.)”

“(Sure thing, man. How can I help?)”

“(Well, I’m here off Capital Blvd., man, at the Walgreens across from the Crystal Palace, you know. I need some money to find a place to sleep tonight, man. If you could just spare $20 bucks that’s all I would need, man. I’m just here off Capital, you know. Are you close to here? I’m being honest, man, $20 bucks would help so much. Dude, Mr. linville, man, could you please help me out?)”

“(Not really Tom. I’m already way north of where you are, and I don’t hand out cash.)”

“(Ah, man, that’s okay dude. I’ll be honest with you, man, I’m just glad you answered. People aren’t honest anymore. They say they’ll answer, but they don’t. My mom doesn’t answer. My dad doesn’t answer, you know. People lie. But I won’t lie to you, man. If you got $10 bucks, that would be helpful too, you know? You’re a Christian dude. I need to be around someone like you who’s honest. I know you’re honest cuz you’re a Christian. You don’t even have $10 bucks?)”

“(Nope.)”

“(Yeah, okay, yeah. Thanks man.)” *click*

I wanted that to be the end. I wanted to drive home, change clothes, eat dinner, and relax with Mrs. linville. I wanted to get a good nights sleep for work the next day. I wanted to forget about Tom. Ignore his need. Close my eyes to the figure hiding in the bushes trying to sleep. Pretend he’s unafraid of bugs, and snakes, and thieves, and death. I wanted to just let him disappear. God wouldn’t let me.

Then the King [Jesus] will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matt. 25:34-40, ESV

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. Matt. 5:38-42, ESV

Such verses flooded my mind. I had to pray. Pray for wisdom regarding what I could do. Pray for peace regarding what I was going to do. I called Mrs. linville. She was amazing. Her faith in God and readiness to serve in whatever way possible astounded me. We prayed together. It was good. I called Tom:

“(Hey Tom. Mrs. linville and I just talked. If you’d like a warm meal and a place to lay your head tonight, we’d be honored if you would stay at our place. The only exception is that you will have to be ready to leave with me at 5:30am tomorrow morning when I go to work.)”

His response was one of pure gratitude. He knew exactly what buses to take to get to me. We agreed that when he arrived in Wake Forest, he would give me a call and I’d go pick him up. When the call came 2 hours later, he was still in Raleigh. He was at the Triangle Town Center’s outer loop bus stop where I had initially dropped him off last Thursday. Going and getting him without Ross just seemed wrong, so I called Ross up and together we headed out. This was not an easy decision on the Smith(s) part in light of an overdue date night they’d been planning. I thank the Smith(s) for their willingness to put others before themselves. They are so cool.

God rewards faithfulness. Before Ross and I had driven even one mile, Tom called. He had caught the Wake Forest bus and was right around the corner. We made it back in less than 10 minutes. Ross and Sarah got to go on their date AND be a part of God’s work in Tom’s life. God is so gracious!

As Tom walked toward us from the bus stop, the first thing we noticed was that he had acquired a rolling suitcase (not a big one; but like a duffel bag with wheels). When he got in the car, we noticed more. Tom was totally drugged up. He immediately confessed that he was on Hydrocodon because of the pain in his hand, at which point we saw the stitches and the gash in his right hand. According to Tom, he was cut wrestling a knife away from a lady friend of his who was attempting to stab herself to end her life.

It was difficult to believe anything he said. His eyes were glazed over and droopy with dark circles beneath. He was fidgety and quietly chuckled to himself as he attempted to communicate. These attempts failed. He repeated random things he had already told us all the way home. Getting a little unnerved, I confronted him for an explanation about his behavior. He was unable to give me a straight answer about anything. Except that I could trust him; he prefaced almost every sentence with “I’ll be honest with ya, man,” or “I won’t lie to ya, man.” That made trusting him difficult.

Sitting in the car beside Ross, I began to struggle. Twisting around to look this guy in the eye, it felt like my spirit was also being twisted. Mentally, I began to doubt this decision. I began to believe that Tom’s choice to get this way exempted him from mercy. What if this guy snapped? What if he killed all of us as we slept? What is he carrying in those bags? What am I about to allow into my home? Drugs? Needles? Knives? Guns? Bombs? Anthrax?
(~Side note: like you, this was my FIRST thought when considering the repercussions of taking Tom in; but God gave me peace about it. My selfishness, however, never stopped screaming against it and as my fears grew, my focus on God slipped. When God falls out of focus, the world becomes a terrifying place, and I was becoming terrified.~)

I had to pray. Silently, staring at Tom, I begged God for help. God responded immediately. Before my eyes, Tom transformed. I no longer saw a sad, broken, bleeding, and untrustworthy thief. In my back seat sat Jesus Christ. However you want to take that, there he sat. No, I didn’t see Christ’s face in place of Tom’s, but Christ veiled Tom so as to powerfully remind me that I was safe. My family was safe. Ross and I, and our families, we are almighty God’s; of whom shall we be afraid? Of none.

Tom slept like a baby. Better than a baby. Mrs. linville fixed us a delicious meal, lovingly prepared Tom’s bed, and truly made him feel like a part of the family, which he expressed to me later. Joining us in family devotions, Tom was zealous and enthusiastic about the sonship promised to the followers of Christ. When he heard Ephesians 1:5-6, “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved,” he freaked out at Christ being called the Beloved. He designed a tattoo for it and designated the entirety of his right forearm to it on the spot. I had never really meditated on Christ as being the Beloved. Tom’s observation was a blessing.

The morning had to come. Tom and I enjoyed some scrambled eggs and toasted bagels with orange juice. My heart ached at the possibility of putting him back on the street. After a night of eating together, singing together, and sharing together, I new – at least in part – that my previous fears were unwarranted. Tom very easily could’ve been me, if my life had happened to him, and I would’ve definitely been him, if his life had happened to me. The saying is horribly true: that we fear the unknown. Oh, how we fear it. I thank God, who knows all things, that he comforted me and overcame my fears.

5:20am and back in the car, Tom was a different person. Aware, lucid, and scared, he spoke clearly and intelligibly, the way he did when we first met. As we drove south, to Lake Boone Trail, he expressed true conviction over his sins. He told me things that would’ve made me pull over and kick him out. He looked to me for hope. I hesitated, still processing what he had shared. That’s all his doubt needed. He wept, certain that he had ruined his chances at ever knowing God. Recovering, I had to almost scream his name three times to get him back. He was upset. Totally sure of his conclusion. Resigned to his damnation, what more could I possibly know that could comfort?

I shared with him what God wanted. I shared with him God’s standard, which Tom totally understood in light of seeing the clarity of his sin. God wants holiness. God’s standard is his own holiness. Nothing less can save. I told Tom that this meant that all people were hopeless. The most benevolent man in the world could not give enough to please God. I saw something click in Tom’s eyes. The Spirit was giving him understanding. He said, (“That’s why we need Jesus!)” and I was able to tell him what he had heard all his life, but this time with ears that hear.

For Tom, there was no need to repeat a prayer after me. There was no canned incantation recited. God was after Tom, just as I saw last Thursday. Tom’s salvation was happening, one day at a time, and spiritually, he was soaring. Physically, however, he was sinking like a stone. He had not slept well due to the pain in his hand for five days. I prayed again about what I could do. The Lord laid on my heart the story of the good Samaritan. I then prayed for peace about what I was going to do.

Only two miles from where I worked, there is a Ramada Inn. I checked Tom in at 6:00am and he could stay there all day and into the next day until 12:00pm. We found his room and got him settled. I gave him some Scripture to read and think about, prayed for him, and said goodbye.

This story enabled me to share my faith with three co-workers that day. With one I was even able to share a little bit of the gospel. I prayed earnestly that Tom was using this time wisely. When I checked my cell phone, I had 2 messages from Tom. Listening to them made me smile. He had slept well after I dropped him off. He said that when he awoke, he jumped into the Bible and now had too many questions to leave on a voice mail. He had watched the 700 Club on TV, which got him thinking about the judgement day, and then Raleigh, NC felt the tremors from Mineral, Virginia’s 5.8 earthquake. He was sure it was the end of the world.

After work I went back to check on him before heading home. He met me in the hall, too excited to wait for me to take 10 more steps. The barrage of questions was hard to keep up with. We examined passages together until his questions dwindled. I walked him through Matthew 24, emphasizing that the sign of famines and earthquakes was but the beginning of the end. He was glad there was still time to talk to his family about God! He ran, got his phone, went to the hotel’s phone, read and dialed a number, and handed it to me. “(What’s going on?)” I asked. “(Tell my brother about Jesus.)” he said. “(Oh, and that I didn’t sell cocaine to get this room.)” I couldn’t help but chuckle at the proximity of those two requests.

His brother didn’t answer the phone, so I left him a message explaining how Tom didn’t sell cocaine to get the room, but how God had put him there through me because of His love for Tom. It didn’t feel right to go much further than that on a voice mail, so I hung up. Tom was overjoyed. We looked over a few more scriptures about God’s provision and power and then, at Tom’s request, bowed down together and prayed. Tom’s prayer was totally selfless. He asked that God would take care of my family, bless us, keep us healthy, grow Judah up strong, and let the new baby be born healthy. I felt so honored to be a part of this.

After leaving Tom to let him get some sleep, I felt so full of the Spirit. Getting to share this, getting to tell of God’s work in Tom’s life, has been such a tremendous privilege. Nevertheless, even after experiencing all that, my fearful flesh creeped in. The next day I began to worry that Tom would not check out at 12:00pm and I’d get billed for another day. I began to worry that Tom had rented a bunch of movie’s through the hotel, had ordered room service and booze, and had run up a huge tab. My fears grew so much that I called the hotel to double check. Tom had done no such thing. In fact, Tom had checked out at 9:00am. He was gone.

I called his cell phone several times to see how he was doing, where he was going, but he never answered. As I pray for him, I am given peace that he’s walking with God. I have confidence that I’ll see him again, whether because he’s failed or succeeded, I don’t care. We are all wrecks. We all need God; and all who walk with Him succeed. I look forward to reuniting with Tom someday; though if it’s not here below, then I pray it’s up above.

in Love,

the linvilles

(thanks for reading this crazy long post)

Categories: linvilles in giving, linvilles in life, linvilles in prayer, linvilles in scripture, linvilles in sharing the gospel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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