Tag Archive: integrity


D.J. Martin  (SingleFocus Ministry®)

I used to attend a church where, when it was time to pray, one particular deacon prayed for an extremely long time. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people fell asleep while he prayed. Seriously, he was long-winded when he prayed. I’ve heard people say, “If we ever needed prayer before, we sure do need it now.” Well, that has never been truer then it is today! Matter of fact, I think we would welcome that praying deacon right about now. Just the other day, I read about a 5-year-old child bowing their head to say ‘Grace’ over their lunch, which was their habit at mealtime, and a teacher told them that they were not allowed to pray. Huh? Like I said; “If we ever needed prayer, we sure do need it now.”

Daniel faced a similar challenge during the reign of King Darius. (Daniel 6) The king set over the regions 120 princes, and over them, he appointed three presidents. Daniel was one of those three presidents. Then, Darius planned to appoint one man over all the regional leaders, including the presidents. Daniel, a man of integrity, was highly favored, by the king, for the job. The jealous leaders didn’t like that. Therefore, they searched for something to discredit Daniel but, could find nothing. So, they decided to use Daniel’s faithfulness to God against him. (Daniel 6:5) Three times a day Daniel opened his window facing toward Jerusalem and prayed to the Lord, God of Israel.

Darius conquered many nations, and though he did not worship the God of Israel, he allowed the people to continue to practice their religions. The jealous princes and presidents went to Darius and persuaded him to sign a decree which would outlaw prayer. For thirty days no one could pray to anyone except to Darius. Violators would be put down into the lion’s den. After Daniel saw that Darius signed the decree, he went to his chambers; opened the window towards Jerusalem (which was his habit), got on his knees and prayed, and gave thanks to the God of Israel three times a day. (Daniel 6:10)

Believing that this would eliminate Daniel from Darius’ favor, the princes hurried to tell the king of Daniel’s violation of the law. Darius, regretting that he had outlawed prayer, tried to think of a way around it but, reluctantly, he had to have Daniel put into the lion’s den. However, after fasting and not sleeping all night, the king hurried to the lion’s den early the next morning and in anguish called, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is your God, whom you faithfully serve, able to deliver you from the lions?” To the delight of the king, Daniel answered,  “O King… My God sent His angel, and shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me…” (Daniel 6:12-22)

Darius had Daniel pulled up from the den, and there were no scares or injury found upon him. Afterward, the king (angry at their ploy) commanded that those men who had accused Daniel, be cast into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives. Then, King Darius wrote unto all the people, nations, and languages, which he had conquered; “Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel for; He is the living God, and steadfast forever, and His kingdom shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” (Daniel 6:23-27)

Look at this. After Daniel prayed; the king fasted for Daniel’s safety, Daniel escaped harm from the lions, and the king glorified the living God throughout the nations. Wow! Imagine what would have happened had Daniel not been persistently praying when they outlawed prayer. I think that Daniel went to his knees in prayer after Darius signed the decree because, “if they ever needed prayer, they sure did need it” then: when they outlawed prayer.

Think it is bad now? Imagine what it would be like if we had ever stopped praying. Then, imagine what it will be like because we never stopped praying.

“…I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud; and He shall hear my voice.” Psalm 55:16-17

Don’t stop praying.

Pray without ceasing… 1Thessalonians 5:17

That’s Today’s Single Focus

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Randolph Scott (1898-1987)

Randolph Scott (1898-1987) (Photo credit: Gonmi)

by DJ Martin (SingleFocus Ministry®)

While watching old black and white Westerns on the Classic Movie TV Channel, I noticed an interesting constant.  To be undoubtedly clear about the difference between right and wrong, throughout the entire movie, the good guys always wore white hats and the bad guys always wore black.

Whatever happened to the days when the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black? Those noble heroes adorned their heads in white hats and never said a disparaging word. They were always encouraging and bold in their speech; declaring that the wicked shall obey laws of righteousness and will be defeated. They were champions of honor, honesty, and righteousness. They were men of character and integrity. They were the heroes that both the wicked and righteous women desired and young boys emulated. Their stand for truth and justice and their fight for the downtrodden, abused and deceived made them seem 6 feet tall and handsome though physically they might not be at all. They were not wearing costumes or capes; the white hat was all that was needed to identify them as the good guys.   They didn’t believe that it was another person’s job to fight the wicked, though they knew it could cost their life if they failed.   They were champions without rings or streets named after them. They were not like ordinary other men, because they were optimistic, hopeful and trusted in God. They expected to be and were always victorious though no man would go with them. They read their Bible and prayed to God.

On the other hand, you always knew the wicked guys, because they always wore black. Their heart was as black as the clothes they wore. They might be 6 feet tall and handsome in appearance, but deep inside their bulging chests lodged appallingly ugly hearts, and somehow the evil therein seeped through their pores. It was not so much what they said, but how they said it. Their tongue was always contorted; speaking lies camouflaged with flattering words and cleverly crafted verse accented with a perfect smile and timely pitch. They crept in the night covered by darkness or in the day sheltered by the shadows; to carry out their sinister plans. They falsely accused the good guy while plotting to rob an entire town ‘blind’ and snickered at them huddled in their Church.   The cunning words and cleaver façade always made it difficult for their ‘mark’ to discern their evil intentions until they had been swindled or tied up and robbed.  They know how to woo the hero’s lady and make it seem as if the good guy is the bad guy, but we, the observers, always knew the difference, because the good guy wore the white hat and the bad guys wore black.

Nowadays it’s difficult, even for the observers, to discern the good guys from the bad. Good guys are wearing black hats because curiously the dress of the wicked often becomes the latest fad. The bad guys are successfully infiltrating good situations and blending in with the good; always saying the right thing at the right time, going to Sunday School and to Church.  It is way too late when they have been discovered as cons and frauds who had merely painted their black hat white. They leave the victims of their deceit bruised and broken, stripped of their dignity and feeling quite stupid. Then, having conquered the foolish, the wicked verbally abuse them and freely oppress them.

Now, I’ve only seen it in the old black and white films made before my time, but I wonder what happened to the days when the good guys were imitated and men took offense if anything derogatory was said about their mom or their lady. What happened to the days when good guys always married good women who were pure inward and outwardly; and they stayed with them (her) through sickness and in health; always protecting their (her) reputation and dignity?   Now we hear even the “Sunday go to meeting” worshipers humming the lyrics of a womanizing, verbally degrading rappers’ hit song.  Didn’t it used to be a time when men and women loved each other pure and chaste from afar until they said: “I do”? I think that’s what my grand momma said. In those old black & white Westerns, someone would inevitably say, “My word is my bond.” However, today, even the marriage covenant is treated like sweet-tasting chewing gum: discarded as soon as the flavor is gone.

Whatever happened to the time when men dressed for success and held their pants up with a secure belt, always mindful to keep their underwear a private affair?  Oddly enough, unfortunately, even the good guys so blend their lives with the lifestyle of the bad, that the good guys are silenced and accept ridicule hoping that they would find favor with the bad guys.  Even the good guys seem to only be willing to be our heroes if the price is right. Nowadays, their integrity, character and stand for righteousness seem to be merely an echo; as honesty and bravery are no longer fashionable.

What’s going on?  There seems to be no more obvious Martin Luthers, Martin Luther Kings, Tank Mans/Men or Chai Lings. There’s no discerning population and no unwavering men and women of principle are heard above a whisper (perhaps because every day they are being silenced in the halls of infanticide or the scourge of political correctness).  Immorality is lauded as ‘a right’ and righteousness is bullied into silence by leaders who dress in the white of integrity, but walk on a fence ready to sway whichever way the wind blows.  Maybe the only way we can bring back those days when good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black is that deep, inside each of us; we make sure that our inner man wears a white hat.  If each individual exhibits the godly character of a hero, from the inside out, pretty soon they will impact someone else and before you know it; a whole town will be full of good guys who wear white hats and my children’s children imitate. Do I dare dream…?

I used to think that it was the way they dressed; or the way they wore their hair; or the way they showed up for Church every Sunday morning that made them the good guys: champions of righteousness, honesty, and integrity. One day, alone in my apartment, suddenly I understood that anyone can act righteously to accomplish their selfish desires. It’s the ones who have transformed hearts and minds (Romans 12:2); they’re the ones that eat and breathe courage and integrity: true men and women of principle and character. Now I understand that except the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14, Act 4:31) comes over them, they don’t stand strong and fearlessly exhibit godliness. Actually, they don’t look like Randolph Scott at all nor do they ride a white horse like the Lone Ranger, but they always seem to show up to encourage, pray, rescue and save at just the right time.  Even if the good guys wore white hats and were heroic and courageous, unless Christ is their Savior, they will never know true victory.  You see, it starts from the heart totally yielded to the ultimate champion, Jesus Christ.

The ‘born again’ (1 Peter 1:23) follower of Jesus Christ becomes more than an observer, but a Spirit-filled participator in the fight for truth and justice.  Filled with the Holy Spirit (Act 2:4), they will leap tall buildings, penetrate steel walls, rescue the captive and give insight to the blind faster than a speeding bullet when they pray. They might not wear white hats, but they are covered by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:14, Revelation 1:5) and cloaked in righteousness, honesty, integrity, and unwavering truth and character.

Perhaps we don’t recognize the good guys, because we’re looking too high up. Actually, the good guys tend to be in the trenches, not in comfortable hilltop mansions. They’re the ones who back you up when you’re troubled. They are the passersby who run into a burning building to rescue you from the flames. They’re the ones who pray for you when you’re struggling. They’re the ones who empty their pockets so that you are fed though you’re a stranger. They are humble and unassuming men and women who comfort and encourage. Though they don’t even know your name, they mercifully hold your hand or wipe the tears from your eyes when, in your life, tragedy has struck. When you stumble, rather than condemn or judge you, they extend their hand of mercy to help you up.   Amazingly when there is a need, they are always showing up in the nick of time and do not require payment from you; not one dime. The good guys don’t always look strong and courageous. They might wear uniforms, but most times not. The good guys could be your neighbor or yourself who speed to rescue without hesitation; all because someone needs help. They stand at the ready to show captives the path to freedom and break the chains that bind. They sound the alarm when you draw near to danger and they don’t stand around waiting for you to show some kind of gratitude.  They may not wear white hats, but they are up close and personal champions; men and women of character and integrity who wear invisible helmets of salvation (Ephesians 6:17) and breastplates of righteousness (Isaiah 59:17).

I noticed another thing that was common in those movies. In the moment of truth, the good guy always had to fight the battle by himself, because the people who needed to be rescued were intimidated by the wicked and believed deceiving words which rendered them helplessly shackled by the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). They thought that it was best to try to make the wicked happy and then they would be left alone (“evil prevails when good men do nothing”). It speaks to a truth of life: real heroes are discerning and are a rare commodity specially designed and providentially dispatched by God. Though the wicked is cunning and cleverly disguised, somehow the surrendered soul totally yielded to Jesus Christ, rightly discerns the righteous from the wicked, whether or not the bad or the good guys wore white hats.

Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not…” (NKJV)  Malachi 3:18

That’s Today’s Single Focus…

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