God! Carry a big God. What did you think I was going to say – a stick? A stick won’t do you a bit of good.
How often have you met someone who is trying to get their message out by trying to be the loudest voice? I can think of a couple of lawyers who advertise on TV who spend their thirty seconds of commercial time essentially yelling at me, and I hate it! One even closes his ad with the phrase, “I’m waiting.” Consequently I’ve developed a new life principle: I don’t buy anything from anyone who yells at me.
Think about it for a minute … what is your first reaction when someone starts to yell? To move away, right? I get uncomfortable and defensive and I’m probably not really listening to anything the yeller is telling me. I just want the yelling to stop!
“A study conducted by the Church of England found the surprising result:
“Non-believers were asked if a practicing Christian had ever spoken to them about their faith. Of those who said yes, only 19 percent said it made them want to know more compared with 59 percent who said the opposite. While 23 percent said it made them feel ‘more positive towards Jesus Christ,’ 30 percent said it left them feeling more negative.”
Hmmmm … could it be that sometimes when Christians are talking to non-believers, the Christians are acting like that lawyer on TV – “I’m waiting…” Could it be that some Christians are genuinely unpleasant people?
I was reading about Paul when he was stuck in Caesarea. If anybody had an excuse to be unpleasant, he did, ya know? I mean, if I were being held against my will and the governor wanted to trot me out to chat with him and his special friends from time to time, I think I’d be inclined to tell him to go take a flying leap! Why on earth would I want to be treated like the governor’s pet?
And yet, every time he’s summoned, Paul comes as he’s called and presents the gospel with so much grace and compassion that the people who hear him are moved and blessed. First Felix and then Festus are clearly holding Paul as a way to keep the Jews happy and under control, and other than insisting on being judged by Caesar, himself (because he knew his only other option was to be judged by the Jews and he knew how that would end.
Then Agrippa comes through to meet Festus and Festus brings Paul out again, still manacled, to talk to him. I’d sure be tempted to just stand there and give them the silent, hateful glare treatment, but Paul gives them his testimony!
Paul could have stood there and complained about being forced to live in confinement and about the way the Jews were trying to railroad him, but he didn’t. Once he made sure he was going to be tried by Caesar, he turns his attention to sharing the Gospel with these powerful men. Wow!
He didn’t insult the men for being self-serving or cowards. Antagonizing people almost never leads them to Jesus. Loving people leads people to Jesus. We can’t bully people into converting. We can lovingly speak the words the Holy Spirit gives us to speak and then pray that the people who hear us will hear the Love of Jesus in those words.
The other thing that Paul knew that we tend to forget is that whether these men took him on to Rome, kept him where he was, sent him back to Jerusalem, or were converted and set him free, God was in control of the outcome.
That’s why Paul could speak softly, even pleasantly, when he had not been treated fairly. He had already given every step he took, and every word he said to God and he trusted God – absolutely and completely. He knew that God could free him, but that He might not, and Paul was completely okay with either.
I have to ask myself, do I trust God’s directing my life, even if His direction is not the one I would have chosen? Would I be able to tell people my testimony while I’m being falsely accused and held captive? Could I look at my jailers and betrayers with love and say, like Paul, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am—except for these chains”? Acts 26:29
“Since October 2016, American pastor, Andrew Brunson, has been held in Turkey as a political hostage. Pastor Brunson is accused of having links with an organization involved in a failed 2016 coup attempt, as well the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party. But most observers contend that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is keeping him imprisoned for diplomatic leverage.
“This past week (July 2018), after optimistic reports that Brunson would be released at the end of his third hearing in Turkey, the court continued the trial, this time to October 12. The judge sent the North Carolina pastor back to prison for another three months. At the time of his fourth hearing, Pastor Brunson will have spent more than two years of his life in a Turkish prison.
“Although the trial has not gone well for Brunson, at this hearing he still had an opportunity to proclaim the gospel. In the courtroom he forgave those who had testified falsely against him. Brunson said, ‘My faith teaches me to forgive, so I forgive those who testified against me.’
“Another American pastor who was present at the trial said, ‘As usual, there was much spurious testimony against Andrew. His testimony was absolutely powerful. He presented the gospel with confidence and defended himself with boldness.’
“In a Facebook post, Andrew’s wife, Norine, posted that ‘The Lord was absolutely glorified!!! He explained why he was here, he gave the gospel. He publicly forgave all those who have come against him, forgiving as he has been forgiven.’
“She continued: ‘He said, “It is a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ. Blessed am I, as I suffer for him. Blessed am I, as I am slandered. Blessed am I, as I am being lied about. Blessed am I, as I am imprisoned. Blessed am I, as I share his suffering.” I am incredibly proud of him as I am quite sure he doesn’t feel that blessing at this point.’”
Could I speak like either of those people? Could I speak words of love and know that God is in complete charge of the outcome? I pray that I can and will speak softly and carry a big God in my heart.
Lillianne Winegardner Lopez 9.14.18
Twenty years ago, my wife and I were vacationing in Estes Park, Colorado, and had breakfast in a coffee shop. It was empty except for four men at another table. One was mocking Christianity; in particular, the resurrection of Christ. He went on and on about what a stupid teaching that was.
I could feel the Lord asking me: “Are you going to let this go unchallenged?” However, I was thinking, But I don’t even know these guys. He’s bigger than me. He’s got cowboy boots on and looks tough. I was agitated and frightened about doing anything. But I knew I had to stand for Jesus.
Finally, I told Susan to pray. I took my last drink of water and went over and challenged him. With probably a squeaky voice, I said, “I’ve been listening to you, and you don’t know what you’re talking about!”
I did my best to give him a flying rundown of the proofs for the resurrection. He was speechless, and I was half dead. I must have shaken for an hour after that. But I had to take a stand.
We cannot remain anonymous in our faith forever. God has a way of flushing us out of our quiet little places, and when he does we must be ready to speak for him. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Lee Eclov
“The tone of our truth-telling can build a wall or a bridge,” said Ed Waltz.
Ed and his wife, Barb, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, should know. They witnessed two types of truth-telling by two doctors. The Waltz’s daughter, Deb, has cerebral palsy.
Barb had hoped that Deb would walk one day. After performing a battery of tests, the first doctor led Ed and Barb into a small conference room where he bluntly laid out for them what they could expect. In a tone that was cold and emotionally disconnected from his patient, the doctor said, “It is extremely unlikely that your daughter will ever walk.”
Still in a state of shock from the devastating news, Barb asked, “But what kind of shoes should I buy for my daughter?” She was thinking about some special corrective shoes, or perhaps shoes connected to a brace.
Without softening the blow, the doctor retorted, “Buy her whatever kind of shoes you want. She won’t be using them to walk in.” And with that, he quickly left the room, where Barb burst into tears.
Several months later, the family met with a second doctor. This time the entire scene felt different, though. Ed said, “My wife asked this new doctor essentially the same question she had asked the first one. She was still wondering if there was anything we could do that might enable our daughter to take even a few steps.”
The doctor paused for a moment, thinking. Then, he looked compassionately and directly into Barb’s eyes and said, “You know what I would do if I were you, Mrs. Waltz? I’d buy my daughter the prettiest little pink shoes I could find, with purple shoe laces.”
Barb knew what he meant.
Ed said, “We talked about our experience on the way home. Both doctors had told us the same thing—Deb would never walk. I’m ashamed to say what we felt like doing to the first doctor, but we felt like hugging the second doctor.”
How we tell the truth makes a difference in how that truth is received.
It’s nice to talk with people who can make a point without impaling anyone on it. Vicki Edwards
There is no way to have a real relationship without becoming vulnerable to hurt. Christmas tells us that God became breakable and fragile. God became someone we could hurt. Why? To get us back … . No other religion—whether secularism, Greco-Roman paganism, Eastern religion, Judaism, or Islam—believes God became breakable or suffered or had a body.” Tim Keller
Paul likens us to shining stars, and the word shine means to reflect. The scientific term is albedo. It’s a measurement of how much sunlight a celestial body reflects. The planet Venus, for example, has the highest albedo at .65. In other words, 65 percent of the light that hits Venus is reflected. Depending on where it’s at in its orbit, the almost-a-planet Pluto has an albedo ranging from .49 to .66. Our night-light, the moon, has an albedo of .07. Only seven percent of sunlight is reflected, yet it lights our way on cloudless nights.
In a similar sense, each of us has a spiritual albedo. The goal? One hundred percent reflectivity. We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord. You cannot produce light. You can only reflect it. Mark Batterson
 John Bingham, “Talking about Christianity could put people off—Church of England signals,” Telegraph (10-30-14)
 Matt Woodley, editor, PreachingToday.com ; source: Lindy Lowry, “U.S. Pastor Brunson Publicly Forgives His Persecutors— as Turkey Calls for Fourth Hearing,” Open Doors (7-18-18)