A Soft Word in Due Season

Happy New Year all,

Well, did you enjoy the holidays?  I know we did.

We had a wonderful, if chaotic Christmas day with all of our children, their in-laws and soon to be added (thru son in love Chris’s brother) even more in-laws.  Of course there were three joyously rambunctious little boys who made us glad we have a pool to throw them into when it got too loud.

When all was done and dusted and the hordes moved on to other venues, Tony & I shot off to the mountains for a few days to rest and recuperate.  We found what’s known as “the coldest area of Queensland”, about 3 hours due west from our house in a little town called Stanthorpe.  There we found a quiet little cabin with no air conditioning (didn’t need it at night), no internet (wanted it, but really didn’t need it) and spent time writing, sleeping, hiking and getting ready for the New Year.

We were able to finish the book we’ve been writing for what seems like forever, about our life together these last 50 years.  Pretty interesting stuff…… at least to us.  Probably not to another soul, but if you know of a publisher or a book agent who would be interested in looking at it, please let us know.

Ok, we also did a fair bit of Bible reading and the Lord really impressed me with a New Year’s thought I want to share with you.  Come Sunday, we made our way into town, found little Stanthorpe Baptist church, and sprung ourselves on them. They were lovely, and guess what the preacher chose for his sermon?  Yes, the same thing I was reading in Acts 21 and 22, especially around 22:24.

To paint the picture, Paul had been told by several groups of believers and then by the Lord himself to take care in Jerusalem because the authorities were out to get him.

But he went anyway, and after 7 days in the temple, (where he was sure to be noticed, I’m thinking), eventually he was arrested.  He was chained, subjected to the crowd who almost killed him, until the situation escalated enough for the soldiers to come and literally pick Paul up and carry him out of the melee.

And then, after carrying him into the fort, he ‘spoke’ to the commander,  “May I say something to you?”  He didn’t scream or plead, he just ‘spoke’.

What happens next is Paul launches into a long testimony to the guard of who he is (a Jew) and what has happened in his life. He throws in a reference to studying under Gamaleil, which subtly lets them know he isn’t just any Jew but a highly educated one.

Then he goes on thru his conversion to Jesus, telling them the complete Damascus road story.

But it’s his next question that I think we can learn from.

Acts 22:25 says this, But when they had tied him up to be whipped, Paul spoke (I’m guessing here, in a quiet and respectful voice) to the officer standing there, “Is it lawful for you to whip a Roman Citizen who hasn’t even been tried for any crime?”

You’ll have to keep reading to hear what happened, but I thought WOW.  This is PAUL, one of the most assertive of all the men in the New Testament, who liked to preface his letters by things like “I say unto you” and countless other commands and opinions that he didn’t seem to leave open for discussion.  (”It’s better that a man never marry” sort of thing)

So why was he so meek and mild?  I don’t know.

I remember a friend of ours who was that way.  He died a year ago and we still miss him terribly.  Why?  Because he had a way about him.

I’ll never forget him and his wife Beth visiting soon after we moved into our house.  We were so proud of it, including the beautiful lawn that Tony had just mowed…

It spread out from the deck and we all four stood there admiring Tony’s handiwork … until Alan “spoke” to us.

He said softly, “This is beautiful, I wonder, did you want all those lines in it?”

That’s all he said, it wasn’t him bowling over in laughter, as we all did when we realized that the blades weren’t adjusted and had carved deep grooves in the yard.  He didn’t call Tony an idiot, he just said, “Did you want that result?” Paul did the same thing, in a tone that only pointed out the obvious.

I would like to think that Christianity may have been on trial here as well.  The guard tying him up must have been curious about these firebrand ‘Christians’ and how they would behave.

Paul was sharing his faith……by just being “Christian”. I can’t think of any better New Years Resolution than to be kind, and gentle…showing Christ to a crazy world.

Have a great week ‘getting back into things’.  We will do the same.

Marsha

PS. We enjoyed getting to know a little about the pastor at Stanthorpe Baptist where we visited.  He is a transplanted American from upper New York but has been out here longer than we have.

He told me he had been converted from being a rather famous celebrity chef in NYC  (and no, he said, he does NOT watch all the TV cooking shows) to ultimately becoming a pastor.

When he heard that in the US, we’re Southern Baptists (they don’t have that denomination here) he told us that he began his search for God after sitting by a Southern Baptist missionary on a plane.  They had a good talk and “Joe” shared his faith and said he’d be praying for him.  That’s all; nothing more, but it got him thinking.  He never got his complete name, but refers to him as “Baptist Joe”, the one who showed him that life could have meaning.

Any of you SBC “Joes” out there want to claim this conversation?

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