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Pointing to the Cross

Well, happy 2019 folks! I’ve been seeing tons of posts about New Year’s Resolutions, year-end recaps, and goals for the next 365 days. It’s funny how one tick of the clock changes how people perceive the world and makes them want to live differently.

Speaking of which, I know you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seats to hear my 2019 prayer request so I won’t keep you sitting there much longer. It’s a little…different.

I want to learn how to evangelize better. Maybe this sounds really weird to you. Here’s the thing. I think most people walk away from interactions with me thinking that I’m a really sweet, responsible girl and I HATE that. I want people to walk away from talking to me having heard about Christ. I want the smallest of conversations to point to him and his incredible work on the cross.

I’m not talking here about going on a huge mission trip or anything like that. I mean everyday life. I’m talking about my neighbors, the guy who owns the gas station down the street, my co-workers. These are people I encounter all the time and know that I’m a quote (emphasis on the quote) “good person” but have I actually shared the GOSPEL with them??

To be honest, sometimes I clam up. Either out of fear that I will sound preachy, superior, or unsympathetic, I don’t mention Christ when that’s really what I’m thinking. I’m tired of overthinking things and not letting what he has done flow out of me.

And here’s what I know: We are commanded to be ambassadors for Christ and to spread the gospel. (Matt. 28:18-20) But I was also thinking this week of the verse that says:

“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
Luke 12:48b

I think most times that verse is used in relation to money but as I thought about it I realized that the most precious thing I have been entrusted with is the gospel. How will I use what has been given to me?? I want to be like the faithful and wise steward. We don’t know when Christ is returning and I want to be burdened for those that don’t know him and make the most of the time I have.

That’s my heart’s cry for this year. I know practice will make it more natural. I’ve got some other things up my sleeve too. 🙂

I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Day! Do you have anything specific you are praying for this year?

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2019 in evangelism

 

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The Contentment Prayer

Is there some kind of award for posting so much in December? Because there definitely should be. Pretty sure this is a record for me. I usually get so busy and posts go out the window. I guess I’ve just been inspired! (People who have been reading the December posts scoff…)

Anyway, if you have read this post or maybe this one…you know that I do something at the beginning of every year. I don’t really make New Years’ resolutions but I pray for a specific thing for God to teach me each year. And I pray for it all year long. Usually it’s an area of weakness that I know I have and I want to work on it through the year.

This year, I was praying for contentment. My life has changed a lot in the past couple years and I knew I wasn’t really happy with it. I felt restless in my walk with the Lord and what he wanted me to be doing with my life. And so on January 1st, I prayed. And I didn’t stop. I also did some studying on contentment and talked with mentors.

*sigh* I had grand plans for this post. I keep a pretty thorough journal and I wanted to go back through it and see how God has worked this year. There have been times when I was going through something and I would be frustrated and suddenly realize, “Oh my gosh! This is about contentment!” And my whole perspective would flip because I could SEE God teaching me. So I picked up my journal to read through it (which is something I never do.) Wanna know how far I made it? January 7th. Sometimes God’s lessons are hard, people. And even though I’m beyond grateful for them, it was painful to read back over it so soon.

I learned a lot about Paul this year. I wanted to know more about this guy who could be content in every circumstance (Phil. 4:11) so I studied him a lot. And one phrase continually stuck in my head. Paul says that he had learned to be content. I think I’ve come to realize that contentment isn’t what I thought it was. Contentment isn’t something you ARRIVE at, it’s a continual process of learning. Your situation changes and you learn to be content over and over again and the reason you (and I) can do that is because

Christ. Doesn’t. Change.

There it is. I’ve preached the gospel to myself more this year than any other and even though my life has drastically changed, funny thing, God hasn’t. He is still the same as he was three years ago, ten years ago, 2 thousand years ago. Knowing I can rely on that is a HUGE source of contentment.

I’m SO thankful for the way that God has answered my prayers this year. I do have mine for 2019 but you’ll have to wait for my next post to read about it. 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2018 in contentment

 

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A Real Christmas

This weekend I got to do one of my favorite things of the whole year. The Farm where I used to work was putting on their annual Christmas event and I got to volunteer for it. This event is great- a wagon ride that stops at different scenes where the story of Christ’s birth is told by volunteer actors. The culmination of the scenes is the last one. A simple nativity in a barn and angels singing. The gospel is told at this scene which means that all the thousands of people that come to this event have the opportunity to hear the gospel. I. Love. It. 

Friday went really well but Saturday came around and it was POURING. Torrential downpours, people. And for an event that is outside, it didn’t look like it was going to be quite as much fun that night. But I was reminded that things go on and the gospel is shared no matter the weather. And I prayed. Lo, and behold, we had practically no rain for the tours and as soon as we finished, it started to rain again. Isn’t God incredible??

But this weekend, I also had a good friend of mine say something unusual to me. She asked me why I was smiling so much and said I just looked so happy and she loved it. She said she is so happy and wished her face could show it like mine can all the time.

Gotta admit, I was kind of taken aback for a minute. I had to stop and think. Of course my answer would have been different if this person wasn’t saved but she’s a strong believer and we are good friends. I thought and just realized that somehow, seeing God answer small prayers like clear skies and being surrounded by people I love, doing something I love filled me with a joy I haven’t felt in a long time.

But I think there’s more than that. Growing up, I was the embodiment of the Christmas spirit. I was ALWAYS cheerful, ALWAYS singing carols, ALWAYS excited for Christmas. And that’s a hard expectation to live up to. The last two years, I have felt very depressed and numb at Christmas but I didn’t show it. I felt like I needed to be the cheerful person that my family and friends expected me to be. And I hated every minute. I hated pretending to take joy in my favorite time of year when I felt nothing. I would enthusiastically participate in every Christmas activity and then come home and cry because I felt so empty.

And this morning at church, sitting taking communion, I realized that I wasn’t faking that joy this year.

It was real.

Amidst all the pain and difficulties this year has brought, God has given me his joy for this season and I don’t have to pretend to have it. I suddenly felt so relieved and unburdened.

So if you saw me quietly crying during communion this morning, no worries, they were tears of thankfulness. Just pure gratitude as I remembered all Christ has done for me.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2018 in Christmas

 

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Done “Being an Example”

Have you ever felt paralyzed? Hmm…maybe that’s not quite the right word. Crippled? Maybe inadequate is the best word for it. Where you look into your toolbox and realize that you simply don’t have what is needed to get the job done? Like you need a flat head screwdriver but, doggone it, all you have is a Phillips. (Because we all know you can make do the other way around.)

That’s kind of how I’ve been feeling about evangelism recently. Yeah, I know, you’re waiting to find out how my brain got here. As you may know, I started this new job which is totally different from my previous job. It is fast-paced, you get moved around a lot within the store, and there isn’t a lot of time to talk with your co-workers or the customers. I went in, prayerfully, with one goal: to share Christ with others. Very simple in my mind.

But I have found myself floundering. I slowly realized, with dismay and distress, that I don’t recognize opportunities to share the gospel! At first I refused to believe it. I mean, seriously, I just worked at a Christian facility for over 4 years. And I shared the gospel daily with my campers when I was a counselor. But that is such a controlled environment where bringing up Christ came naturally and easily every day.

I’ve been thinking about how evangelism was taught to my generation. All growing up, I was pretty much taught that if you live like Christ, people will see your example and will want to follow him. It’s very simple. Example Evangelism is what I’m calling it. But the more I look at Scripture, the less I see of that! You have to use words! You can’t just give someone the gospel by your actions (although you need them for sure); words MUST be included! (Romans 10 talks about hearing the gospel.) I feel like I was never taught how to naturally bring Jesus into everyday conversations in order to witness to others. And I’m TIRED of living by example only. I get frustrated at work because I know I miss opportunities to share Christ simply because I don’t recognize them until later.

Now, that all being said, I’d like to make two disclaimers:

  1. I realize that you need actions AND words. Both are necessary parts of evangelism. I’ve been looking at Jesus and Paul and how they did ministry. I am aware that their whole lives were testimonies. Not only did they proclaim salvation with their lips but they also healed people, lived among them, gave of themselves. My point is that sometimes I think believers almost become humanitarians because we do wonderful and nice things but if we don’t openly share Christ right along with it, then the entire meaning is lost!
  2. I am NOT blaming my parents or the church for my inadequacies in this area. I know that each person should always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in him. I take full and complete responsibility and I have people at church not only holding me accountable but also helping me learn and grow.

However, I don’t know when or where this whole “Example Evangelism” thing got started but can we lay it down now? You don’t convert people (Okay, we don’t convert people at all, but ya know what I mean) by being a good example. You know what’s going to happen? They are going to look at you and go, “Well, there goes a really nice person! They don’t make ’em like that anymore!” And they will go on with their lives.

Let’s learn and teach the new generation how to boldly and naturally share Christ in everyday conversations. Teach them to share the gospel by example AND with their words. You need both. Without one, you will frustrate yourself; without the other, you will become a hypocrite to all people.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2018 in witness

 

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Using Opportunities

I was home sick from work with a 101.4 fever and nasty cough. Curled up on the couch, I was trying to get Netflix to work when my house-mate got home. “Have you heard the news?” Nope, I pretty much slept all afternoon. Apparently, there had been a terrible accident less than a mile from where we both work. She plopped down on the couch beside me and pulled up the news to show me pictures. A pickup truck driver had gone off the road a little ways, over corrected, and then his vehicle rolled several times until it stopped in a field. The truck no longer looked like one; it looked like a small car in the photos.

“Is the driver okay?” I asked.

“Uh, looks like they took him to the hospital. That’s all it says.” And right then, as we looked at the article, an update popped up to inform us that the driver had died. Oh, it was so sad! And as this young man’s story unfolded in the next couple days, a heavy burden was placed on our hearts for this family.

He was in the military and had gotten home from basic training just that morning. He was 19 years old, engaged to be married, and his fiance was pregnant with their child. His family lives right on that road where the accident was, about 2 houses farther down. We consider his family neighbors to the Farm where I work and he actually helped out at the farm a couple times. He made a mess in one of our barns with a few friends one time, but he went back later that day to clean it up. His name was David and he died on April 16, 2015.

As we all thought of ways we could bless the family, God dropped an opportunity right into our laps. The field where he crashed just happens to belong to the owner (We’ll call him Matt) of the Farm where I work. The day following the accident, a young man appeared in our office and asked to speak to the owner. I directed him to the correct place and didn’t think anything of it. The next day, he came back and asked me to let Matt know that he was borrowing the digging tools he had asked for but would return them later. I called Matt to let him know and he told me the back story.

The young man was a good friend of David’s. He was driving the car that was in front of David’s and he saw everything in his rear view mirror. He was the first on the scene and saw his friends body as it hung half out of the car. The image was burned in his mind. He and three other friends wanted to put up a memorial cross in the field and had come to ask Matt’s permission. He got it of course and as they talked, Matt asked the friend how he was going to make the cross. The young man didn’t have any ideas yet and it just so happens that Matt also does some wood working. He offered to help the four friends and they walked to the shop area on the farm. As they worked, Matt had the opportunity to ask them if they knew where they were going when they died and to share the Gospel with them. They made a beautiful, wooden cross and Matt even helped them burn David’s name, birth date, and the date of the accident on the front. He also helped them burn their own initials on the back of the cross. They borrowed the digging tools the next day and placed the cross at the accident site. By the time they had finished everything, they were so grateful to Matt and told him to call them if he ever needed anything.

I drive past this cross every day on my way to work. And I say a prayer for the family every time I see it.

Matt was given such a cool opportunity. I’m overjoyed that God used him to represent Christ to the family and friends of this young man, David. I think, when something like this happens, we tend to close up because it’s an uncomfortable topic. But God wants us to share each other’s burdens and point others to Christ. This is something I need to work on.

Please be in prayer for David’s friends and family.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in witness

 

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Summer Debrief: Part 2

This July, God placed an amazing opportunity before me: to go on my first international mission trip! Some friends of mine went with our church to Trinidad last summer and I was blessed to be able to go this year. God provided for the trip in amazing ways! I was planning on paying for most of the trip myself but through family, friends, and church members the Lord provided for all of the financial needs!

We left early on Saturday morning. I was a little nervous about flying especially since I had the flu bug the day before and was still a little dizzy but I had no troubles. We arrived safe and sound Saturday evening in Port of Spain and were whisked off to Famous Trinidad KFC. They will proudly tell you theirs is the best in all the land. It was pretty good.

Monday – Wednesday we taught VBS in two locations. One in the morning and the second in the afternoon, as well as a women’s ministry at the second location.

The Morning VBS was the same place the group had shared at last year in a town called McBean, with approximately 23 children. These children have a basic knowledge of the Word of God, were very well behaved and they were so happy to see us.

Our Afternoon VBS was in a town called Carlsen Field. We had 30+ children. This was a much poorer, drug infested location where one of the members of the church down there lives. She and her family are trying to minister to the people there and the VBS was held on their home property. This was a much more challenging VBS because there seems to be very little knowledge of the Word of God and they did not pay attention very well. But when God sets before you a challenge, he also gives you the grace to complete it!

While the VBS was going on in the driveway of this home two of our ladies were meeting with the women of Carlson Field on the patio of the house right beside where VBS was taking place. There were two women that they were able to minister to. One, who’s husband is an alcoholic, another who’s husband is a Cocaine addict and lives mostly at the local drug house and only comes home to steal from his wife and children and abuse them. Her 8 year-old son refuses to live at home and says he will kill his dad when he is older because of what he sees his dad do to his mom. This mother does not sleep at night because of fear. It was very hard to hear these stories and to feel helpless to aid these families. All we could do was proclaim Christ to them, knowing that THAT was what they truly needed anyway.

Tuesday evening we all loaded up in the van to go see the Leather Back Turtles that are 200 or more who come up on the shore and lay eggs OR to watch baby turtles hatch. Once again, God had another plan for us. There was a young woman walking toward us on the road. Pastor Bickram (the pastor who’s house we were staying at and a good friend) asked if she knew where we might see some Turtles and she said she would take us to them and got in the van with us. She said she was going to a town and we were headed in that direction but she was on foot. Now this is 15 miles of pitch black darkness of night with woods, tall grass on both sides of the road and she was 26 years old. Bickram pulled over under lights of the town to ask her some more questions and we ended up taking her to the police station and even that was a hard decision to make because often times they are as corrupt as the criminal. However, they were very helpful and were concerned for the girl’s safety. The bottom line is that she had run away from home and was headed for a drug house, apparently to meet someone she didn’t really know. The police told Bickram we saved her life that night. I have been praying for this girl ever since.

On Thursday, we did some sightseeing in Tobago before flying back on Friday. It was a great trip. God gave all of us the grace we needed to push through our tiredness and to love on kids that were not always obedient. The culture down there is so rough. The last day of VBS, I was sitting on the grass at Carlsen Field and suddenly there were about 10 kids around me, all wanting attention. They were pulling my hair, pinching me, and kicking me: just to try to get my attention. I told one of the guys in our group that it felt like in movies where people are attacked by birds! I had bruises on my arms from it! I was glad to be able to show Christ’s love to the kids.

The situation down there was very eye-opening. The thing is: it was eye-opening about OUR country. I’ve heard stories of kidnapping and drugs, but to see that first hand in Trinidad made me realize that this happens in America as well. It may not be as public here, but it happens all the time. I have a friend who works in the Family and Children First Council around here and I hear stories from her that shock me. Our country desperately needs the Gospel. This trip has made me more committed to living out the gospel every day.

I don’t usually post a lot of pictures but thought I would share some with you.

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Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Trinidad

 

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Summer Debrief: Part 1

I’ve rewritten this post three times now because there is so much to tell and I can’t figure out how I want to tell it. I’m almost tempted to just make a list on here about the summer but I know that’s cheesy. You should see how my journal looks when I don’t write for a while. 🙂

This week marks the final full week of summer camp. I can’t believe how fast it’s gone; seems like just yesterday that all the staff were arriving, new and nervous, and now they are thriving here at camp. This summer was so different from last year in a good, stretching way. The staff were different, my role/perspective was different, and many changes took place as the summer wore on.

I think the Lord really taught me contentment this summer. Now, I would have said I was a content person before- I’m usually pretty happy wherever I’m placed. But, it seems like this summer I had to lay down every desire I had and things just didn’t go the way I planned. I never did get to be a counselor because I was needed in the office. And it was OK. I recognized that the Lord had placed me in that spot for a reason and my job was to serve joyfully there. There were so many new things to learn in the office because I wasn’t in there for camp last year. My days were very busy and on some days, I wouldn’t leave the office until 7:30 or 8:00.

My new motto has become: Does it really matter? I ask myself that all the time. In the whole scheme of eternity, is this going to matter? Is it going to matter if I miss this event, if I don’t get to eat dinner until 8 or 9 tonight, if this has to wait until tomorrow. Now, not to say I just threw everything to the wind and don’t care what happens or if I’m doing my job to the best of my ability. I’m just trying to throw in some eternal perspective. Some things just aren’t worth getting upset over because they don’t matter that much.

And other things do. Souls matter. Christ’s glory matters. Did I impact others for the gospel? Did I shine Christ in a dark world? Was I glorifying God in everything? Those things matter.

And those are the things I want my life to be focused on.

 

(Stay tuned for part 2!)

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2014 in camp

 

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