Julia Farmer has graciously accepted the invitation to be a guest blogger. May you find her words as glorifying to God and as edifying to the Church as I have.
Today was a gorgeous Fall day, left the kiddos on their school lessons an hour before lunch, enough work to keep them focused for a little over an hour so that I could run by the Farmer’s Market and pick up some farm fresh eggs, butter and a few other things. Love my farmer friends, they have worked long days into the nights harvesting their vegetables before the freeze so there was a lot to choose from today in addition to the mustard, collard and turnip greens which are so plentiful in this season. I got enough to fill my freezer for the winter, along with a great deal on tomatoes and peppers to make some homemade salsa this week. Also got 4 pounds of raw peanuts, half I plan on roasting and the other half I will boil. However, the best part of today was the long discussion I had with my tiny, precious little Filipino friend. Her husband raises grass fed beef and she sells her homemade bread and canned goods made from her garden. Love her, she is so full of joy!! She always asks about the kids and not in the way that expects the response to be in one sentence or less. Her interest is beyond the etiquette and social graces of the south. She wants to know and the next time I see her she remembers where we left off. She has a very interesting life story. Tremendous hardship she suffered that would destroy most people, but it has left her with the most grateful and tender spirit.
Our conversation began today standing over a basket of beautiful pink lady apples. As I was about to leave with my bushel of apples she wished me a Happy Halloween and then added, “You do celebrate it…right?” I told her I used to, but not anymore. I explained, “We will carve out a pumpkin, make some pumpkin muffins from the fruit, roast the seeds and enjoy the festivities of the Fall season, like bonfires, roasted marshmallows and hay rides. As well, my youngest pretty much dresses up all year long, a cowboy one day, a medieval knight the next, but we don’t honor Halloween as a special day in our home.” She asked me why and there was a door opened that I knew the Lord had made. I proceeded to tell her about Reformation Day, October 31st 1517 and Martin Luther the father of the Protestant Reformation. She had no idea, but she did have many excellent questions that kept the dialogue going forward. By the time we were done we had covered the Spanish Inquisition, the Albigensian and Waldensian persecutions, the 95 Theses, the Latin Vulgate, the courageous reformers like Tyndale, Wycliffe and many others who were martyred because they dared to translate the Bible into the language of the common people. I explained to her that Reformation Day is such an important day to honor and remember for Christians died so that the Word of God could be translated and made available to all people. The fact that we have a Bible in our language is the providence of God, but HE used the Reformers of the Reformation and the invention of the Gutenberg Press as the means to accomplish this. We remember the Protestant Reformation on October 31st and celebrate in ways that are fun, yet honoring to God. Today a great many Christians think of October 31st as Halloween and know little or anything about the Reformation. I think that is largely due to the fact that church history is no longer taught in the schools or the church.
She then handed me a stack of pamphlets and told me a man and his wife keep stopping by and giving her these. She asked me directly, “Is this Jesus?” Glancing down I noticed the Watch Tower logo. I told her no and explained as simply as I could; the jesus and god the Jehovah Witnesses proclaim is very different than the God and Jesus of the scriptures. They teach that while Jesus was a mighty man, HE is not God and not divine. As well, they do not believe in the Trinity, which is simply one God in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I was very thankful for the remembrance of the verse the kids and I had been memorizing together and shared with her John 1:1-5, “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” I explained to her that the Word is Jesus and that HE was with God in the beginning and as this scripture proclaims, Jesus is God. She went on to confess that she has a hard time reading her Bible because she finds it confusing, but that my explanation made sense to her. She asked me how else they are different and I answered. Jehovah Witnesses do not believe in hell and their idea of salvation is works based, people whom God approves will receive eternal life. The Bible teaches that salvation, the gift of eternal life, comes to those who believe upon Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. At that time I handed her one of the Gospel tracts in my purse and took her through the Gospel. She then asked about our church and I wrote down our address on the Gospel tract. As I turned around to reach for my bags I noticed a group of people standing right behind me and handed them Gospel tracts as well. As I left her husband came toward me, thanked me and let me know the couple that had been giving his wife the JW literature was a part of the group standing behind me. He then remarked, “I don’t know the Bible as well as I should, but I know enough to know that Jehovah Witnesses believe differently than what the Bible teaches. We need to get back in church.”
Driving home I started to get a little stressed as I looked at the clock. So much to do today and I’m an hour behind at least. The kid’s are most likely not on task with me gone longer than expected. Ringing through these thoughts was this, “The Word of the Lord will not return void.” I arrived home to a quiet house still on task, praise God!! My daughter was ahead of her Wednesday schedule and my youngest ready to do math, but per his request, “after lunch please.”
Happy Reformation Day!!!
“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” —1 Peter 3:15