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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

Planning a wedding and making arrangements for a trip to Africa didn’t leave us with much down time this summer, but we were blessed with the use of a cottage so that we could have a quiet weekend before the busyness of fall sets in. We left home early, at least it was early based on our standards, and arrived at the cottage mid-morning on Friday. My husband Bob had been up all night, so I planned to spend some time in God’s word while he slept. God, however, had other plans for me.

The main entry to the cottage faces the entry to the cottage next door, and in between the neighbors had a table. There were two men sitting at it, so we met the neighbor and a friend of his as we came in. I think it was when I went out to get something from the van that I became engaged in a conversation with them. They had given me a warning about bears, which I’m not sure if they were serious about or not, but I replied that having just returned from Africa I really wasn’t concerned about bears. It was my reply to the question of what I was doing in Africa that revealed to them that I was one of those “church people.”

The neighbor was very friendly, i.e., quite a talker, and immediately offered me a beer since he and his friend were drinking. I declined because I am not a beer drinker, but I got the impression that he thought he had made a grievous mistake because he quickly offered me a cup of coffee, which I also politely declined. He asked if there was something the matter with drinking coffee, as if to imply he knew there was something the matter with drinking beer, or at least too much of it. In fact he later started a discussion on that very topic.

Ephesians 5:15-18 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

After explaining that the only thing wrong with drinking coffee was that I didn’t like the taste of it, I was offered a Diet Coke, which was apologetically served in a glass with a beer logo on it! Chatting with the neighbors wasn’t in my plan, but God says to make the most of every opportunity, so I figured, “Why not?” I must confess I was getting quite a bit of enjoyment watching him walk on eggshells even though I’d given him no reason to do so.

It became evident that the eggshells came from his own conscience as he revealed that he was raised in a church and knew he was living contrary to what he had been taught. It was an interesting discussion to say the least. Have you ever had one of those conversations where you learned far more than you wanted to know? This was one of those, and then some! I was mainly listener as he went from confession to testifying to his friend about how God had worked in his life on the rare occasions when he invited Him to.

On a related note, I recently “unfriended” my first person on Facebook because I’d had all the negativity I could take. This guy had several posting a day with video clips of those he considers false prophets or did other things he disagreed with. Though he appears to have a large following, I, for one, was getting tired of all the criticism so I asked him if he ever posted anything positive. My comment was not well received. One person directed a response towards me and quoted 2 Timothy 4:2:

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. (KJV)

His comment: “1. Reprove (Negative) 2. Rebuke (Negative) 3. Exhort (is a word which has a double meaning, which is 1) Encourage and 2) warn.) With all that being said, if I follow 2 Tim 4:2 I get 4 things to preach so my ratio is 75% negative and only 25% positive.”

Personally, I don’t agree with his rational. The NIV version says, “correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.” I don’t see how preaching negatively 75% of the time would display “great patience”. And who is going to stick around and wait for the 25% positive, if it ever came? Not me, and probably not the guys I was talking with.

Because I patiently listened, when I did interject with my opinion it was well received. I was even called “a nice, Christian lady,” and that was after suggesting to the friend, who had just been in a motorcycle accident the previous day, that riding his bike across the state after having another beer and a Vicodin was probably not a good idea. I think I’ll skip the 75% negativity and follow the instructions of James 1:19-20:

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Father, I thank you for divine encounters. Thank you for helping me to be "slow to speak" so that when I did speak my words were heard. Thank you that your word does not come back empty, but the Holy Spirit can bring those words up to us when we most need to hear them. I pray you will do that for these men. All my love, Lisa

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