FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Fried Crabs, Part 1

In the little town where I currently reside (most of the time), it is common to see street side vendors and their hand painted signs advertising “Fried Crabs.”  While one or two have a food truck of sorts – old converted vans, others have a folding card table dressed with a vinyl cloth and accented with an electric deep fryer and all sorts of odd plastic containers.  One bears some kind of cornmeal mixture while others contain spices and sometimes mixtures of liquid ingredients.  I’ve never dared ask exactly what.  There is, too, the old ice chest which holds the crabs.

There are always small gatherings of people when I pass.  Some standing.  Some finding a seat on an array of odd furnishings – old metal folding chairs, worn wooden stool chairs and, the one that always makes me smile, the discarded seats from cars and buses.  While some customers grab their fried crabs and go, others sit, chat, swat flies and swap stories as they eat their crabs.

I’ve only viewed these vendors from what I’ve deemed a reasonable distance.  I’ve never tasted their wares and have no desire to.  Why?  I eat with my eyes first, and these sites are less than appealing to me.  I cannot get past the looks of the ice chests – blackened and smudged exteriors, the plastic containers – yellowed and stained and sometimes the vendors themselves – greasy aprons and unkempt hair.  I have looked for the health department rating certificates, but have yet to spot one.  I’m thinking there are none.

So, I take a pass.  Again, I eat with my eyes first.

Don’t we all?  Well, at least most.

Appearances are important.

Given the choice of a bright, shiny, well lit diner or a dimly lit fast food restaurant surrounded by a littered parking lot, most would choose the diner.  Given the choice of drinking a tall glass of clear, cool water or taking a swig of water from a chipped cup with remains of a previous meal encrusted around the rim, most would choose the glass.

Our sensory systems – taste, smell, vision, auditory and touch – are intertwined.  Research shows that our vision heavily influences our tasting, smelling and even our thinking.

First impressions are powerful.  In a matter of seconds we form impressions.  It is our human nature to quickly evaluate and move on – I will eat that.  I won’t eat that.  I will buy that.  I won’t buy that.  I will like this person.  I won’t like this person.  Good? Bad?  Right?  Wrong?  I cannot say unequivocally, but I can tell you it is how it is.

It is how we are.

Which makes me think again about the teachings in Isaiah 43:10 (ESV) –  “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen…”

Not just those who travel to foreign lands or those who go door-to-door or those who engage in street evangelism – all Christians are witnesses.  Everyday, everywhere, all the time we are the Lord’s witnesses.

Many think of witnessing as something you do.  We equate it with certain acts and behaviors like passing out tracts, sharing testimonies during street revivals, ringing doorbells or praying the sinner’s prayer with someone after sharing an outline of faith.

But the truth is that we are witnesses all the time.  And note that Acts 1:8 says, “You shall be witnesses…” not You shall do witnessing.

So like it or not, you are a witness.

What kind of witness are you?

I once heard a minister say, “Your witness is only as good as your personal relationship with Jesus and the extent to which you submit to the power of His Holy Spirit allowing Him to work in and through you.”

What does it look like you are selling?  When people see you, are they drawn to Christ or do they turn the other way?

People are watching.  We are making impressions, and they are evaluating.  What kind of witness are you?

THIS WEEK reflect on your witness.  How are you presenting God’s truth?  Remembering that we eat with our eyes, consider first your appearance –  not just your dress or hairstyle, but how you carry yourself, your speech and your actions because, indeed, people will struggle to hear what you say when they are focused on watching what you are doing.  What might you need to change?  Is there something you need to stop doing (gossiping, telling off color jokes, lying, hanging out with a certain crowd…).  Is there something you need to begin doing (speaking truth in love, being on time for work, being more quiet, spending more time alone or with a different crowd…).  Pray that God’s Holy Spirit will whisper to you revealing actions you need to take to strengthen your witness.  Pray that the Holy Spirit opens your ears and your heart to hear, receive and act swiftly upon what He tells you.


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Someone, Somewhere Needs to Hear Your Story

In honesty, I’ve second-guessed my last post.

I am typically a private person – sorta.  I talk.  A lot.  But I share what I want to share.  There are certain “topics” that I simply don’t discuss.  Decided that a long time ago.

So, I was the first person to be surprised by what my fingers were typing.  But, as I told a friend, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to share.  Still, though, I have been running this narrative in my head:

“Hmm, probably should’ve kept that to yourself.”

“That’s too much information.”

“Well, it’s out there now.”

And, since we are being open and honest, I will confess that I even thought, “Well, you could deny that it was YOUR story.”

And then, I was cleaning up one of my personal email boxes.  I don’t get to those boxes as often as I used to, so there are a lot of messages.  I am able to see the subject lines which helps me decide quickly whether I want to open the message and read it or simply delete it and move on.  One line caught my attention:  “Someone, Somewhere Needs to Hear Your Story.”

My first thought was, “Does God do email?”

Well, I know the answer.  “No.  He gets others to send it for Him.” (Smile)

Why do we keep our stories locked away in diaries, buried deep within ourselves and barricaded behind clenched teeth?  There are myriad reasons.  None good.  None excusable.  None acceptable.  Not really.

Oh, there’s shame, guilt, fear, pride…  Like I said, none good.

Acts 1:8 (NET) says, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Let’s just get three things straight.

  1. When the Holy Spirit comes to you, you shall be witnesses. Translation, you will speak and share how Jesus has worked in your life.    Yes, we are called to share the Gospel of the Good News and to tell others how they can be saved, but that is not all that we are called to share.  Our personal stories are the most powerful – especially those of how we were saved, healed, forgiven, restored…
  2. You shall be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the end of the earth. Translation, you will witness anywhere and everywhere.
  3. You shall be witnesses. Translation, you shall be witnesses.

One of the greatest testimonies ever recorded was that of a pagan emperor who came to know that the God of Israel was the only true and living God.  In Daniel 4:1-2 (NET) King Nebuchadnezzar testified to all peoples, nations and language groups living in the land, “I am delighted to tell you about the signs and wonders that the most high God has done for me.”  In 1 Chronicles 16:8 (NET), David directs the Israelites to “Give thanks to the Lord!  Call on His Name!  Make known His accomplishments among the nations!”

Not so comfortable telling all peoples, nations and language groups?  You probably don’t have to.  Just be obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and tell what He directs you to tell, when and to whom.

Someone, somewhere needs to hear YOUR story.