Okay, yesterday was a bad day. Even in the Holy Land you can have bad days. We started the day at Caesarea, a manmade seaport on the Mediterranean, that Herod the Great constructed just before the time of Jesus. It is an amazing, ancient ruins, complete with a theater, a hippodrome, and the well preserved remains of the public toilets. It was a fascinating place to visit. But it was cold. So cold. The temperature must have been 8 degrees and the wind was howling at 40 with gusts of 60. (Alright, I admit that is Celsius and kilometers per hour, but it was still cold and windy.)
Then it started to rain. We went from Caesarea to Mt. Carmel, where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal. It was raining so hard that even Elijah couldn’t have started a fire. Frankly, Doris and me just stayed on the bus and read the story out of the Bible. It was a bad day in the Holy Land.
After lunch we came back across the country. (Israel is such a tiny nation. We drove from the Mediterranean Sea on one side to the Jordan River on the other in 45 minutes.) There, where the Jordan comes out of the Sea of Galilee, we had a baptism service. It was still cold and wet, but it was pretty cool. As we watched some of our friends being baptized in the Jordan, it reminded us of the time 15 years ago, when Doris and I were baptized there.
It was very early in our recovery. God had just put our marriage back together. We were quoting often, 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation. Old things are passed away. All things are made new.” I really didn’t know what that meant or how new we were until Allen Jackson baptized us together in the Jordan River. He asked me if I wanted to say something. I couldn’t. I was so overcome with emotion that I was speechless. He dunked me and then asked Doris if she wanted to talk. Now if you know Doris you know,she is shy and does not talk in public, at least the old creation Doris didn’t. She said, “I sure do.” She began to testify, and then began to preach. She stopped for a breath. Allen tried to dunk her and she said, “I’m not finished,” and preached on.
All of that came back to us as we were watching couples baptised together. The cold and the rain didn’t seem to matter as much. But it was still cold and rainy. ?
So what is the lesson for today. Caesarea is a harbor town. From the seaport that Herod built, ships came and went to what is now Greece, Spain, Turkey, and Rome. This port put Israel in touch with the rest of the world. And the Gospel in touch with all humanity.
It is almost certain that Paul preached in the theater here before his missionary journeys. It was probably here that he stood before Festus the Govenor. Here he appealed to Agrippa so powerfully that Agrippa said, “Almost, thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” (Read Acts 25-26) And it was from here that Paul took his final trip to Rome. The Jews and the Romans sent him there to silence him. They had no idea they were opening Pandora’s Box and the Good News about Jesus would catch fire from here and Blaze for the next 2000 years.
As we sat in the theater and listened to Govenor Huckabee tell about his encounter with the Gospel as a teenager in Texas, I thought about my own conversion and the person that told me about Jesus. I thought about the many, though not nearly enough, people that I have witnessed to. I thought that still, with all of modern technology, social media, mass evengelsism, the best plan is still one person telling another person about what Jesus is doing in their life.
We used to sing an old chorus, Who Did You Tell Today about Jesus? That is still the most effective means of spreading the Gospel. Witnessing is no more that one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.
And that means on good days and bad days. It means when the weather is gorgeous or the rain is blowing. It means when our life is hunky-dory or when we are going through hard circumstances. God wants us, maybe needs us, to be sharing our faith, telling our story, witnessing. So, I’m asking you, who did you tell todsay about Jesus? Who will you tell tomorrow? Will you begin to do that more?
I always use the simple acronym, SALT. Say anything. Ask questions. Listen. Turn the conversation to Christ. I can do that. Even if it is 8 degrees.