Be A Witness
We are in a unique season in the life of our country, as well as our own. The combination of a world wide virus, the economic lockdowns, the protests, the rioting, and the shouts of “Death to America” are provoking deep questions within most of us. We can see overt hatred, disrespect, and evil almost every night on our news feed. “What is going on in America?” is the common question. A better one may be “What is God doing in the midst of this?”.
The Bible tells us that God does not change, is in control, and has a plan to bring all humanity into his family. From God’s perspective, this season is bringing opportunities for many who have not thought much about God to consider their own lives, morality, and priorities and realized that there is more to this life than what our eyes are seeing. For the first time perhaps, many are turning to look for Him.
What is our part? What should we followers of Jesus be doing. Let’s get back to the beginning and see what directions he gave to all his followers.
4 And while staying with them he (Jesus) ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8 ESV
As I read this, it seems to say that I am to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be Jesus’ witness to my society around me. That word “you” is used three times.
Meriam Webster Dictionary defines witness as
: one that gives evidence specifically : one who testifies in a cause or before a judicial tribunal;
: one who has personal knowledge of something.
If we have had a personal experience with Jesus, then we are to be the ones who give evidence of that experience; if we have personal knowledge of Jesus, then we should be free to share that knowledge.
I’m glad that he didn’t tell us to be the ones to point out if a person is bad, or become experts in the 612 laws of conduct commanded in the Torah, nor expect us to live perfect lives. All we are to do is share our personal experience with Jesus to those around us. Here is how Peter understood this:
In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15
I am a witness in two ways: with my words and my actions with my family and community.
As we discussed this a few days ago in our Tuesday Bible Study, my friend Steve said: “Being a witness does not mean starting an argument.” I responded that we should be ready to answer questions and give a defense of our faith.
Another friend Eric told us of a recent late night call from an acquaintance whose marriage was dissolving, asking for advice. “Why did he call me?” asked Eric. Probably because he has seen you interact with your wife and children. He realized that Eric’s relationship with Jesus took on a practical application.
When asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus said “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
Loving God with our emotions, our obedience, and priorities and caring for those around us provide the visual witness of our faith in Jesus. Words plus actions paint a vivid picture of people of faith.
According to Galatians 5:22. it is only the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that allows us to witness effectively! He is the one who develops love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control in our lives that spill over into our relationship. It is the Holy Spirit who directs our steps to places where we have encounters with others who will be affected by our words and deeds. The Holy Spirit is the one who directs us to listen and give of our resources to meet the needs of those around us. He is the stage director in a living drama presenting Jesus to the world that will impact humanity for eternity. We all have our parts to play as the witnesses.
How effective is my witness? If I suddenly disappeared from my community, would I be missed? Would my community suffer from the lack of “goodness” that I contribute? Good questions to ask.
Let this be our time to be good witnesses of what Jesus has done in our lives.
I have been talking to my Heavenly Father more and trying to speak less. I have noticed I get myself into too much trouble by just speaking what I feel, think or even want to say especially in relationships that I feel comfortable to just be myself. My self can be super discouraging to contend with at times even if I am mostly an upbeat person. I can be such a fool and full of words that don’t make a good difference. I want to be impactful in a way that is positive and life giving. Spreading Love rather than the empty rattling of my mouth.
In being with my dad who has been battling depression and thoughts of just wanting to leave the earth and go to heaven, I have learned that I steer clear away from negative talk of any kind with him…whether it be gripes I may have or thoughts that don’t elevate his mood. I take the intentional time to think through my thoughts and what I am going to communicate with him before I pick up the phone and dial him up. My positive results from talking to God more and speaking less caused me to decide I would talk to God with my dad more as well. So, I intentionally decided on news that could encourage my father and then praying with him for things that he was thinking, feeling or desiring. My intentionality has reaped powerful results.
After my last conversation with daddy (who was feeling very depressed and agitated), my beautiful caring sister in law, Lori…wife to my youngest brother Sheldon who has most of the responsibility to care for dad…texted me and told me that our conversation really meant a lot to daddy and that he felt so much better than he had been feeling previously. I rejoiced!!!
As far as it depends on me….”Pono”…a word in Hawaiian that means to do the right thing and have integrity in your heart. It depicts good character with sound moral judgement. It is doing the right thing even if everyone else around you may not be. We choose Righteousness over judgement, evil and our own feelings, thoughts and desires. We choose love and keeping our relationships right and in order….PONO. We choose to forgive wrong suffered in order to keep our relationships right and not allow any of the “poison” to touch us. Poison only enters when we choose to drink of it and expect that the other person who wronged us will die. When we fail to forgive and be restored to the Relationship, we in fact get the poison that seeps slowly into our hearts and lives and eeks out of us in ways that are not beneficial to any relationship…not even the one we have with ourselves. As far as it depends on me, I need have peace and live in peace with a heart full of love so I can give of that love and peace freely. If I cease to possess it, I cannot give it.
A fool shows his annoyance at once…how easy it is to live in that space of grumbling and complaining. The world is full of such chatter that pulls down of which I can easily partake if I do not discipline myself and choose rightly.
Takes work to keep our inner irritations at bay and to focus on that which is right, true, good, lovely, beautiful, and all that can make our hearts glad. It is a constant intentional choice to focus in on our blessings and all that we can be grateful for. “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”
Our choices abound daily. I chose Life and actions that breathe life. We choose to make the most of our opportunities for the days are evil….How are we going to PONO and use our moments wisely to show the Light and Love that we have so generously been given?
Project Ezra Nicaragua
Although over the years we have lamented the fact that our schools are located so far from the civilized part of Central America, this season we have seen one advantage: There is no pandemic on the Rio Coco. Our nine schools are in full operation, and have been all year. Children are attending classes, teachers are reporting for their classroom duties, and Danilo and his team are making the monthly supervision visits.
I have spoken to Danilo often, and we all are awaiting this virus to run its course. Fortunately children are the least affected, as are the age group of almost all of our teachers. Life moves along with the rainy season in full force, with rice and bean crops growing. We all are comforted by the safety of the isolation of our families.
Thanks to many of you, we are able to pay our teachers, purchase school supplies, and the necessary gasoline for our monthly trips.
We all are ready to make a trip to the River soon. In the meantime, keep these families in your prayers.
Rio Coco Beans Coffee & Rio Coco Cafe
We opened the expanded Downtown Vero Beach Cafe this week! What a beautiful spot the Lord has given us. I'll post photos next month.
Our coffee roaster has been in full operation this month, with many orders being sent from Florida to Hawaii. You might like to try one of our most popular coffees this month- Papua New Guinea. It is high altitude coffee grown at the base of the snow covered Owen Stanley Range, Use this code PNGSEPTEMBER for the month of September for a discount.
Seek The Lamb Donations
Thanks to many of you who have faithfully supported our school project as well as our missionaries.
Here is the link to our secure Seek The Lamb donation page. Your contribution is well received by all of us!
Thanks for being with us this month.