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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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Dealing with Chronic Headaches

One of my co-workers walked by me and said, “Ugh, I have this headache today and it just won’t go away.” As he turned away to grab something, I literally had to clamp my mouth shut because the words, “Uhhh… I don’t want to hear it.” almost came out. After I redirected my thoughts and attitude, I said, “Aw man, I’m sorry. That really stinks, doesn’t it?”

What he doesn’t know is that I have had constant daily headaches for almost 2 years now. What does that mean? It means every single day I wake up with my head hurting and I go to bed with it hurting. The pain varies in intensity but it’s always there. There are things I know that make it worse such as: caffeine, sugar, lots of stress, exercise, social gatherings, loud noises, and the list goes on…and a few things that help such as: sleep, massages, and dark places. They aren’t migraines (I’ve had a few of those and boy are they terrible!) but more of a constant pressure with sharp pains here and there. I sometimes say that it would feel so much better if I could just poke a hole in my head to let out all the extra air that must be up there. So that being said, sometimes I can really relate to others with headaches and sometimes I have to remind myself to be compassionate.

Over the last couple months, since my seizures have stopped, I’ve been kind of holding out, hoping the headaches would dissolve too. But slowly, the thought has been growing on me that they might not go away. I hadn’t really considered that before, but veeerrrry slowly, God gave me grace to accept the idea that that may be the case. I started thinking of how I was supposed to adapt my life to these headaches, instead of sitting around waiting for them to leave. I’m not really a newbie to chronic pain (I’ve had back issues since I was about 11) but headaches somehow affect more of your life than other pain. They are exhausting in addition to the pain.

However, my neurologist and best friend have wanted me to see one of the headache specialists at Cleveland Clinic for a long time now so I finally agreed and went last week. Looking back it has occurred to me that as I prayed about the appointment, I never really prayed for him to have answers. I really just prayed that he would be a kind and compassionate person and that prayer was certainly answered. He sat and listened to me for over an hour and asked a lot of questions. He acknowledged how painful and frustrating these sort of headaches can be. He also admitted that they are very difficult to diagnose and are usually very resistant to treatment. I wasn’t a huge fan of being put on a medicine that he wasn’t sure would work and the side effects were tiredness and dizziness (I deal with enough of those!) so he gave me some natural supplements to try instead. I didn’t really feel disappointed or excited after the appointment because I hadn’t had any expectations for it anyway.

But now that it’s been confirmed that the headaches probably aren’t going away (short of a miracle from the Lord), I realize how many of my favorite activities are affected and how I didn’t really think this was going to be a long-term deal. I found myself stuck in a “What-if” rut the other day. Have you ever been there? I thought I was already surrendered to the idea of chronic pain but things like this started to run through my head: But what if I never run again without my head feeling like it’s going to explode? What if I can’t ever make it through a whole evening with my friends like I used to? What if I can’t sit and read for hours on end like I want to? What if helping out in nursery at church will always hurt my head this much?

Ha! And here I thought I was completely at peace with the whole idea! Again and again I countered those thoughts with the same verse: Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Cor. 12:8-9

To be honest, some days I don’t understand how God’s power is made perfect in my weakness, how everything is working out for my good, how I can count it all joy, or how light momentary affliction leads to an eternal weight of glory. BUT I do know that these are the promises I fully believe and cling to. It is SO helpful for me to remember that Paul also was afflicted with something and asked God to take it away and the answer was no!

And like Paul I need to learn that his grace is completely sufficient.

 

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in epilepsy

 

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Cool Runnings Conundrum

Have you seen the movie “Cool Runnings?” If not, you should get it right now and watch it because it’s a classic and everyone should see it. There is one scene in the movie where the Coach is talking to Derice about winning and he says, “A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.” Derice then comes back with, “How do I know if I’m enough?”

I think that’s a question a lot of people are trying to answer. And everyone thinks that if they just get the right job, car, spouse, or you-name-your-thing, then they will be happy and feel fulfilled. Sometimes you might even be doing this subconsciously and don’t even realize it until you get the thing you SO desired and realize you still aren’t satisfied.

You know, I’m a huge fan of Paul. If I had to pick someone in the Bible to sit and have coffee with, he would be at the top of my list. I just finished reading To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain by Matt Chandler (which is a fantastic book, by the way) and in it he does a compacted biography of the life of Paul. I’m not sure I ever grasped before how quickly and drastically this man’s life changed All. The. Time. I think it’s because you have to compile all his writings to get the full story and our Bibles aren’t really laid out that way. He seriously went from being on top of the world one day to being mostly dead the next from the moment of his conversion!

You have this man who goes from hunting down Christians to being one and it radically changed him. From then on his life is full of extreme ups and downs: from him beholding God’s miraculous works and seeing whole families converted to being shipwrecked, stoned, and beaten. One moment he’s casting out a demon from a slave girl and the next he’s being tortured in prison. This was his life! And yet you read in Philippians 4:11-13:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

And this is what Chandler says (pg. 200) “Do you see now how Phil 4:13 is not about chasing your dreams, following your passion, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, accomplishing anything you want with God’s help? It is instead the testimony of those who have Christ and have found Him supremely valuable, joyous, and satisfying. In a life constantly marked by these extreme highs and lows, Paul has found the great constant security, the great centering hope: Jesus Christ Himself.”

And I say AMEN! That verse is SO misused and it’s about time somebody said something about it!

So to answer Derice’s question at the top: “How do I know if I’m enough?” I don’t really think that’s the right question to be asking. Because if you try to place your value or focus in anything besides Jesus Christ, you will never be enough. We were made to be with Christ so without him you will always feel a void and emptiness.

The question instead for you and me is: is Christ enough for you? Is he the ‘Great centering Hope’ of your life? If everything else was gone, could you say that statement with Paul? If you have everything you want and need, could you say that statement with Paul? That is my constant prayer- that I will be fully satisfied in Christ.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2018 in contentment

 

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