Thursday, August 20, 2009

Uncle Paul

Do you have one of those family members who is a little eccentric? I have an uncle, actually it is my dad's uncle, so it makes him my great uncle - Uncle Aubrey. He is in his upper eighties, never been married, and lives by himself. In his house in North Charleston he has three manual sewing machines, a chair, a coffee table, a double bed, a table with two chairs in the kitchen, and a TV that he watches with the volume turned off. Other than his car, his small boat and his clothes, that is all he owns. He is a retired welder from the Naval shipyard and spends most of his time catfishing at Santee when it is not too hot. He hooks up his boat, he tows it to the lake, puts it in the water, checks his lines, brings in the catfish, etc. Remember he is in his upper eighties and he does all of this by himself. He usually comes for a visit only twice a year, once on the fourth of July and once at Christmas. He brings us about 30 pounds of catfish and about 20 pounds of hot sausage in a giant garbage bag. Not sure why, but he does. When he is in town we sit around and listen to his stories about fishing and working in the shipyard. He has an amazing memory and can tell you details about the weather from 1973 or what type of car his supervisor drove in 1979. It is always interesting to listen to his stories. By now you are probably wondering why I am sharing this with you. I was reading in the book of Acts this morning and I came across a passage I had never read before.

Acts 23: 16 - But when the son of Paul's sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul.

I never knew Paul had a sister and I did not know he was an uncle. Could you imagine the stories Uncle Paul could tell around the Thanksgiving table. Could you imagine looking across the table at Uncle Paul during Christmas dinner (I know Paul did not celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving) after he had been stoned or beaten or shipwrecked. His eyes black and blue, his wounds still so tender he could not lean back in his chair. His clothes were probably smelled of fish, saltwater and sweat, among other things. But imagine his nephew seeing this and hearing Paul's testimony, seeing Paul live out what he believed. I have no idea where Paul's nephew ended up, my guess is that he continued what Paul was doing. How could he not. He heard what Uncle Paul was doing, he had access to talk to Paul according to vs 16 above. He was concerned enough about Uncle Paul that he told him about a plot to kill him and went before the commander of the military - you need to read the rest of the story - and warned him about the plot.

As I read this a couple of things struck me. First, God's word and His stories are fascinating. It seems that just about every time I open His word I am challenged, encouraged or convicted. His word, as Hebrews 4: 12 says, is living and active. God seems to meet me right where I am through His word. Second, I wondered what my conversation with my kids is like. Do I spend way too much time talking about things that really don't matter. Is all I talk about sports with my son or fashion trends with my girls. Do I spend time talking with my kids not not really saying anything of significance. And finally, am I living out my faith in front of my kids, my wife, my neighbors. Uncle Paul did and I think he had a powerful impact on those around him. I challenge you to spend time in God's word. He will meet you right where you are. James 4: 8 says Come near to God and He will come near to you. I want to encourage you to think about what you say and do around your kids, your nephews and nieces, and your neighbor's kids. Do they have any idea you are a Believer or is the only thing they really know about you is that you like to catfish and eat hot sausage?

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