A Bold New Name
I read it and cringed, “For as long as I can remember, ‘Caution’ has been my middle name.” I realized, ‘Caution’ might even be too generous for me. Caution in relationships, caution in conversation, caution in ministry, caution in sharing truth, caution in saying yes, caution in reaching out, always caution. For some of us caution is such a default position, a knee-jerk response, that it defines us like a middle name. Of course, we’re not talking here about the kind of wise caution that keeps you from getting run over by a car, but the kind of self-protective caution that keeps you from opening your door or sharing your heart. The caution that hinders vulnerability, closeness, new relationships, evangelism. It’s not the name I want.
As I read the book of Acts, there is no mention of Paul ‘Caution’, Peter ‘Timid’, or Barnabas ‘Hesitant’. That doesn’t mean they were plain crazy, rude, or blunt. Neither does it mean they got it right all the time. But when they met the risen Jesus and He gave them the promised Holy Spirit, they were transformed. Life wasn’t about self-protection anymore. No longer denying they knew him, no longer hiding behind locked doors, their new identity is ‘Bold.’ In fact, the words “boldly” and “boldness” are used 18 times in the Bible, 11 of them in the book of Acts, describing the way Jesus’ followers share the truth of the gospel.
What’s the difference? Why were they so bold but I so cautious, especially with the gospel? Every excuse I can come up with for caution in my situation falls short compared to theirs. “I might be rejected or persecuted.” They much more (Acts 4, 5, 6, 12, 14, 16, 17…I get it.) “I don’t have enough education and training.” They much less (Acts 4:13.) “I don’t have the time and energy.” Sometimes they “expounded and testified about the kingdom of God from dawn to dusk” (Acts 28:23.) “No one is interested.” Didn’t stop them (Acts 4:19.) “It might be dangerous.” Paul knew for certain it was dangerous for him to go to Jerusalem and went anyway (Acts 21:13.) So what was it that gave them this determined, life-sacrificing boldness?
First, and foremost, Jesus. Acts 4:13 says the people observed the boldness of Peter and John and “recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Jesus told His disciples to be His witnesses and promised them the power of the Holy Spirit, and when the Spirit came, so did His power! Jesus gave them a mission and provided what was needed. He has done nothing less for us.
Second, if they didn’t have enough boldness after step one, they prayed for more. “And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that your servants may speak your word with all boldness….When they had prayed…they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:29,31.) Immediate “yes” to a prayer God still loves to answer affirmatively.
This week, as I prayed my somewhat obligatory prayers for open doors for the gospel in my neighborhood, the words caught in my throat as I realized that the first open door needs to be mine. ‘Caution’ makes me want to give excuses and wait for someone else to initiate and show interest. But the commission of our King Jesus, coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit, compounded by the unchanging and amazing gospel good news, multiplied by the bold prayers of the saints, fueled by God’s “yes,” can change my name. What have we missed under the false shelter of ‘Caution’? Let’s pray for each other, sisters, for boldness to open our doors, boldness to go out, boldness to invite in, boldness to speak. May ‘Bold’ so mark us that people will recognize that we, too, have been with Jesus. May ‘Bold’ become my middle name.
1st Thursday CONNECT
Gardening is the theme for 1st Thursday CONNECT, May 2, 6:30-8:30 PM. We will have salad greens, salad dressing, bread, and dessert waiting for you. Please bring a small bowl of a salad bar topping, and together we will create a mega salad bar for dinner. Ideas include: fruit, veggie, nuts, cheese, meat, pickles, olives, eggs, or get creative! Also, be thinking about a Bible verse or phrase or word that has helped you grow spiritually this year or one that you want to be reminded of often. We’ll be using these to create simple garden stones. Bring your Bible, your topping, and RSVP on Facebook, Remind, or texting Marcia at 503-720-7197. Friends are always welcome.
Our final 1st Thursday CONNECT for this school year will be June 6th. We will give out resources and ideas for summer in June and will resume 1st Thursday CONNECT in September.
One-to-One Bible Reading
Will you be praying for someone outside of the church that you could boldly ask to read Mark with you this summer? It might be a coworker, a neighbor woman or two, a family member. We will have extra copies of One-to-One Bible Reading for Mark available in June for this purpose. Reading God’s word with someone outside the church could be easily the most rewarding thing we do this summer, but it won’t happen if we don’t ask. And we might not ask if we don’t first pray. So for now, pray. Ask God who you should ask, for boldness, and for an open door—yours and theirs.
Women’s Camp at Camp Tadmor is July 19-21. Click the attached link for more information. If you are interested in attending or in organizing a group of women to go, please let the Women’s Ministry leadership team know.
If you are interested in teaching the Bible and would like to learn how to better study and prepare, we hope to have a teacher training class this summer. It will include online video classes from The Charles Simeon Trust Workshop for Women, homework, and small group discussion. Please let Marcia know if you are interested in participating.
What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert
Evangelism is More Prayer than Action for Protestant Churchgoers @ Christianity Today