Widows, Orphans, Poor, Etc.
What times we live in! Who could ever imagine at the beginning of this year that we would be where there is a nationwide pandemic, lockdowns, protests, rioting, and general lawlessness- at many levels.
The curtain has been drawn back and we are seeing blatant evil on display.
While there are many who have legitimate complaints that should be heard, there are others who want to destroy fundamental structures and freedoms in our nation. Many reasonable people are suddenly realizing the dangers in the road ahead. The cliff at the end of their road is coming into view.
What are God’s people to do?
Not surprisingly, our current societal situation is not new. Past cultures have been here before. God is aware of all that is happening, and He has a plan, and He has a part for us to play in these times. Consider this word from an ancient prophet:
8 Then this message came to Zechariah from the LORD: 9 “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. 10 Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other. Zechariah 7:8-10
The theme of Zechariah’s message is as current in our time as it was in 520 BC. – Social Justice.
Take a moment and reflect. Has there been unfair judgments against people of groups in our culture? Have certain people and groups been treated unfairly. For those of us who grew up during the Civil Rights movement, the answer is an obvious “Yes”. Have basic rights been denied to segments of our population?
My wife is 100% Japanese. The many “Jim Crow” laws that were enacted in the late 1800’s set up a segregated “separate but equal” system in many southern states. According to these laws, there were separate water drinking fountains in public buildings that were marked “Colored” and “White”. If we were living in those days, my wife and children would be forced to drink from the “colored” fountain, and me from the ‘white”. This is only a very minor example. Most Jim Crow laws were more oppressive and were validated by the Supreme Court in in the famous “Plessy vs. Ferguson” case in 1896. Homer Plessy was 7/8 white and 1/8 black who lived in New Orleans. When he refused to sit on the train for colored people, he was arrested. His case was finally heard by the Supreme Court who ruled (7-1) that separate but equal facilities were constitutional. It was one of the worst judgments in the history of the Supreme Court.
After the Supreme Court ruled in the infamous Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973 that abortion was a ‘constitutional right” (5-4), basic rights to life have been denied to many unborn American citizens. Over 60 million and counting.
Have we shown mercy and kindness to one another? The atmosphere of American business in the 1990’s was so profit orientated that our society often overlooked the needs of many workers, paying minimum wages for hard labor.
How helpful have we followers of Christ been toward the needs of broken families? How have we done with the “widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor”? Many of us have enjoyed years of comfortable living, with scant attention to the needs of those less fortunate than ourselves. Do we “Christians” really care? Sometimes it seems like we get lost in our own little worlds, our small scale worries, and care more about the cars we drive, the homes we live in, and the color of the carpets of our churches. “First World Problems” say my children who all grew up living along the Rio Coco in rugged conditions. We are fortunate to have had that experience.
Photo: Our Srumlaya Rio Kruta Honduras school, 1987
I hear Pastor Tim Keller talk about this passage from Zechariah 7, as well as another social justice mandate from Isaiah 58:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Isaiah 58:6-7
Here God says very clearly that we should be helping those wrongly imprisoned, lightening the burden of those working for you, getting rid of practices and laws that give privilege of some over others, being involved in feeding those who are hungry and giving shelter to the homeless and sharing clothes to those shabbily dressed. When it comes to needs within our family, we should step up and help.
How does this affect your company employee protocols? Your reaction to seeing homeless in your community? Looking at the overflowing shelves and racks of clothes in your closet? Reading the arrest reports of your local public safety departments? Relating to extended family?
These are very significant questions that I am asking myself! And you all know what Laura and I have been doing these past three decades.
This brings us to what Jesus says about the importance of caring for others. Caution, it is very sobering.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Mathew 25:34-40
Jesus says that entrance into Heaven will somehow be connected to how we responded to the needs of those around us.
With these three passages of Scripture in mind, Tim has often asked his non-Christian friends “Did you know that social justice is at the heart of Christianity?” Most are genuinely surprised. Then he asks many in his congregation at Redeemer Church in Manhattan, “Did you know that this was what you signed up for when you made Jesus your Lord?” Again, most are surprised.
Are you surprised? Have we Followers of Christ been faithful to this mandate, or have we dropped the ball, letting this be the cause of other groups, many with a focused agenda who are not connected to our Lord?
A long time friend of mine, Bob Rexroad, told me tonight as we talked about this:
“Every encounter we have with each person that God puts across our path is an opportunity to allow God to use us in their life to encourage, to comfort, to help, and to ultimately invite into the family of God.”
He’s right, this is the time to take God’s words seriously. Most of those caught up in the panic, fears, and uncertainty of these times are looking for answers, and if they know us, they are going to see those answers in action, in us. But where to begin? How are we to fall in line with what God wants to do in this season of our lives?
First of all, don’t think that you “have to do” these things. Don’t make it a religious act. We will never be successful in caring for others by making it another task for God. It has to become a natural desire on our part. How does that happen? My suggestion as a starting point is to read Psalm 103. David is talking to himself. He has forgotten something very important about God.
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
5 Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. Psalms 103:1-5
The word “forget” in the Hebrew is šāḵaḥ: A verb meaning to forget. It indicates that something has been lost to memory.
Many of us, like David, have forgotten the many benefits of having an intimate relationship with God. Let’s remember together:
He pardons all our sins;
He heals all our diseases, with ultimate eternal life;
He takes our lives and makes our days very fruitful to Him and His purposes, regardless of our past.
He treats us with constant love, affection, and favor, and is very understanding our or weaknesses;
He provides the satisfaction in life that we all crave and need, especially after trying all the other things;
Even in our middle and old age, we remain young in spirit, mind, and even our bodies.
The key to being a useful tool in God’s hand to reach this world, show mercy and kindness, to comfort the hurting, to share our material goods, and to take an active role in lifting the oppression that has fallen on many, is to remember what God does for you. Let your soul and spirit be filled with gratitude! As David did, remind yourself of God’s goodness, and his favor toward you. Worships and adore Him in your private moments! Tell Him how you feel about Him. That is where change begins.
Photo: The Rio Coco Cafe on Utila is a place to care for many travelers.
As you do this, very naturally you will discover an empathy and compassion that God puts there in this process of appreciating Him. Why? Because gratitude leads to a desire for intimacy, and intimacy with God will naturally fill us with God’s values, and we will become more and more like Him. God values all human life. Each one of His creations are precious to Him.
Please don’t think that you have to be God’s social justice warrior! You see many SJW’s in our society who don’t seem to be happy, content people. Trying to do these things will only become another religious act that will become a burden to you.
Instead remind yourself of the benefits of being connected to God, meditate on these things, and watch what naturally will come.
Photo: At the summit of Haleakala Volcano (10.0026 feet), Maui, July 2020
God is all about transformation. He wants to take us out of our own minds and into His. He wants to shift our focus off ourselves and on to others. He wants to make each encounter with others to be ones where they experience the presence of Himself, through us.
That will change everything, because the Gospel does change everything.
“And My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and heal their land. Now My eyes shall be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 -15
I am constantly making goals for myself which often turn into prayers that need answers from my Source of Dependence. Frequently the answers come when I come to the end of myself and throw my hands up and say the four letter word, “HELP!” “Please help me, God.” My connection with a Divine Source of Strength, revelation and Perfection is an unexplainable reality that must be experienced before belief and trust can be given. I have personally tasted and have seen, felt and experienced who I refer to as God, the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. A real Entity who is All powerful and All -knowing and He has no flaws. I know….impossible to fathom and comprehend much less explain and expect understanding. Yet, I have personally encountered, experienced and tasted of the goodness of my Heavenly Father and know His fruit and work in my life.
I thought I went to Hawaii to say good- bye to my dad who wanted to stop his dialysis which meant he would pass and leave for heaven in 12-14 days. My dad had made his wishes known to his doctor and to us and it seemed that this is what was supposed to be the best plan according to the doctor and my dad, but as Life would present itself, we realized that it was not that simple. My four brothers and I discussed the issues at hand…none of us knowing what to think or do, but all of us realizing that somehow we would be able to discern what God was saying and doing. I trusted that God would be clear to my dad and I as we prayed and talked about his situation. He in turn entrusted me with his life believing that I would know best and would say, “I don’t know what’s happening and I don’t even know what I want or need already. That’s how bad off I am.” His selflessness wanted to protect his relationships around him in that he did not want to be a burden and knew that he was because of how bad his attitude was …he had some choice names for himself which he and I would laugh about because I too fit in the same categories as my father...I would just say to him that he was being a bad little toddler and he would agree and say, “I am worse than that…” and would give a two worded description which always seemed to include a-s ….a Jack or hole. We both seemed to find humor in that …His genuineness was actually refreshing to me and the fact that we could come to places of laughter over it was truly an answer to my prayers.
The other miraculous answer to my prayers came the day after I cried out to my heavenly Father and beseeched him for HELP…Michael had talked to my pastor on Oahu and his wife sent me the contact of a home health care person that lovingly took care of her mom. When she said, “We love her.” I knew. I called her and she came over and we knew God had given us what we had been crying out for. I was able to peacefully leave the islands knowing that God had stepped in with his answer.
Photo: Ronald with his sons Jason, Ryan, Todd & Laura, his grandson Andrew, grandaughters Tera & Eva, Randi, and greatgrandkids Emi and Zakai.
We miraculously got “stuck” in our house on Maui because our renters were gone from the island and Michael and I were able to be empty nesters as our kids were taking care of our Cafes in Vero Beach Florida. We ourselves had much “growing” to do. Our focus on intimacy , seeding and planting….working on our own issues that we needed to attack and focus on a lot of our own inner healing and struggles within ourselves and our marriage….making us more effective as a team and able to operate more fully. We took counsel from a Holistic guru that helped us worked through some nutritional aspects that needed addressing. We were clearing out some cob webs and learning to fast and pray once again… we realized that we needed to go into “Attack mode”…and not just settle into cruise control in these latter years. We believe God is calling us into our most effective season of life and we need to prep and be ready. The darkness is real, but our Light will shine brighter as we give ourselves over to our Source of dependence in totality, focus and dedication.
Every day I ask to hear from Heaven…from my Father who does speak and has a plan to give me…He is faithful and desires to relate to our hearts in detail. May we hear from heaven and be healed. Laura
Let’s Give Thanks!
1) For a successful time in Hawaii!
2) That our cafes have stayed open and our employees have been paid all these months.
3) For God’s provision in our lives !
If you want to help out this month, donate online at Seek the Lamb Giving
Please pray this month:
1) That God would stamp the virus out, and protect us.
2) That God would be speaking to many.
3) That Americans would vote the Bible this November.
4) That God will provide for our teachers and missionaries.
Thanks for your prayers. They are effective.
Rio Coco Bean Coffee
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