Five Simple Questions to Help You Share Your Faith

imagesEver struggle with getting a spiritual conversation started with someone? I do, and it’s never for lack of desire. Sometimes it’s just tough to know where to start. A friend shared some thoughts from Alex Absolom. I’ve heard Alex speak before. He’s an author and pastor. And pretty good at both. Here’s his web site. I’d like to pass on some of what he had to say about sharing Jesus (with a few thoughts of my own sprinkled in).

Here’s five questions to ask.

  1. Can I know your story? Here’s some other ways of asking this. “Do you consider yourself a spiritual person? What do you think has led you there?” “How’d you end up where you are now?” Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know and this can be a great way to turn it towards spiritual matters.
  2. Can I pray for you? This may be uncomfortable, but that’s really only because it’s not something that you’re used to doing. I can only recall one person who didn’t want me to pray for them. Here’s a couple of ways to approach it, “I try to pray every night before I go to bed. I’d like to pray for you. Is there anything specific you’d like me to pray for?” If they say yes and give you something specific, then offer to pray about it right then. Of course, one place that’s always available is to ask your server at restaurants if you can pray for them. “We are going to pray for our food, is there anything we can pray for you about?” Don’t be too scared to be a blessing!
  3. Can I serve you? Another way to ask this might be, “I feel like God is calling me to be a blessing to you. How could I serve you?” Once you’ve broken the ice this is a great way to create some depth in the relationship. But before you ask someone how you can serve them, be sure to ask God to get them ready to be served.
  4. Can I share my story? This will probably come further along once there is some relationship already formed. Not always, but it might be a little awkward to start off with this. All believers should be a great witness for Christ. Of course, your life is the first and greatest way that you can be a witness for Jesus and the Gospel. Another is to have your story rehearsed and kind of in your back pocket. Try to be able to share (without notice) how God has and is working in your life. I’d suggest that you have a one minute and fifteen minute version ready. The one minute is obviously for a brief conversation where you really can’t sit down with the person. The fifteen minute version is where you can sit down for coffee or lunch.
  5. Can I share God’s story? This is where we hope to have every conversation end, sharing the Gospel. The story of how God so longs for a personal, intimate relationship with you that he sent his Son (in the form of a man) to come to earth to redeem all his lost people. The greatest story ever told. Here’s the only catch . . . be ready to tell it! Know how you want to share. Have a scripture memorized that you can include. Rehearse it on someone and get some feedback.

I’ve prayed over every person who will read this post. May God open doors for you. May he bring his lost children into your path. May he bring life-giving words into your heart and mind to share. And may he bring your the courage to share them. Amen!

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The Way Home

From what I can tell, Luke refers to Christianity as “The Way” five different times. In each of these occurrences, Christianity is being compared (directly or indirectly) to a pagan, temple-based Greco-Roman religion or to Judaism. It’s so neat to see how this wasn’t an accident. Think about how regimented and strict the orthodoxy is for each of these religions. Because they are temple-based, there is a step-by-step approach to how and when the “sacraments” are to be completed. Christianity was originally set in opposition to this. That’s why it was given an alternate name like “The Way.”

The original Greek word (hodos) has four common meanings: the way, the road, the journey, conduct. Think about how significant this is. Christianity is the way . . . to what? It’s the road . . . leading to where? It’s the journey . . . which ends when? It’s the conduct . . .  of whom? Let’s try to answer these questions.

  • Christianity is “The Way” to God through Christ. It’s also “The Way” for God to redeem us through Christ.
  • Christianity is “The Road” that leads to a relationship with God.
  • Christianity is “The Journey” that involves me walking hand in hand with the One who rescued me and ends when I get home.
  • Christianity is “The Conduct” that I exhibit that leads me to live a Godly life.

To frame our “religion” in this context and allow it to resonate in our lives, forces us into a paradigm shift that completely alters our perspective and our relationship with God. We quickly move from being a part of a religion of doing and into a movement of being. You see, instead of being a temple based religion where we come at designated times to offer our sacrifice, we live a life that is a sacrifice; and we come together as a community or family to offer our worship to the one who makes the journey possible.

The more I understand this concept, the more my relationship with God grows. Do you see the connection? Do you see the difference? Luke didn’t choose to use that word (hodos) on accident. He was communicating to the audience of Acts exactly what this new “sect” or “religion” was all about. What he communicated was that it was nothing like any religion they had ever seen. It wasn’t like Judaism or any pagan religion.

Think about this the next time you say to yourself (or your kids), “it’s time for Church”. Or you answer the question, “what’s your religion”? Or the next time you find yourself defining your religion by what you do on Sunday and Wednesday. Instead, let’s focus on thinking in terms of our Conduct and the progress we’re making on our Journey, Way or Road “home.”

ImageI’m part of Facebook group called Compadres. The group is made up of wonderful Christian leaders. Many of the folks in the group are bloggers; so we decided to come together and share our blogs this summer – hence the Compadres Blog Tour. Each of us will be writing about the glory of Jesus Christ. What you read below is my feeble addition to this wonderful project. Blessings!

Here’s one of the things Unger’s Dictionary had to say about glory. “It is the exercise and divine display of what constitutes the distinctive excellence of the subject to which it is spoken; thus, in respect to God, His glory is the manifestation of His divine attributes and perfections, or such a visible splendor as indicates the possession and presence of these.”

Here’s what I think this means; when we talk about the glory of God we are referring to the things that make God, God – His love, holiness, truthfulness, compassion, kindness, graciousness, patience, etc. We see this in the ways that God has revealed himself through His creation. Paul talks about being able to see it in creation itself (Rom 1:20). But I think we can most clearly see God’s glory in life of Jesus – it’s the incarnational aspect of Christ (John 1:14; 14:13). Jesus lets us see what God looks like. But not just what he looks like. We also get to look through Jesus’ life and see into the heart of God. We get to see His glory.

So here’s where it gets good for Jesus’ followers. And not just good, but real good. As we respond to the call in our life to be Jesus’ disciples, we are called to begin looking more like Jesus. That’s when we actually begin to reveal the glory of the Father. Check this out: “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image” (2 Cor 3:18, NLT). I LOVE THIS!!!

Just think about how cool this is! We can see into the heart of God as we watch and listen from Jesus. And as our relationship with the Father grows deeper and deeper, we become more and more like Him. That’s when other people can see into the heart of God through us.

So what does that really mean for me? How does it affect my life? I want to try to answer that question. But first, take a look at this picture.pope pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love this picture for many reasons.

As you read these last few sentences, I want to encourage you to read slowly. Allow me to lead your heart and mind for just a moment.

In this picture we see the manifestation of 2 Corinthians 3:18. Go back and read that verse again.

I think Jesus would have sought this man out. I think Jesus would have gone out of his way to find this man among the crowds, and touch him, as every one else around kept their distance. Can you just imagine how this would have played. Imagine the crowds gathering around as Jesus came into town. Can you see them? Can you hear the excitement as the great miracle worker walked into town being followed by his ragtag group of 12? Do you see the crowds coming out and filling the streets, trying to reach him so that they might only be able to touch his cloak?

Now look off in the distance beyond the crowds. There you will find this man. Probably standing alone. Perhaps only his mother standing with him. Now imagine Jesus making his way through the crowds because there was Kingdom work to be done. Can you see Jesus walking up to this man that no one else would touch? He’s right there. So close that you can see the tears in Jesus’ eyes because he understands, he feels the pain and loneliness of the man who has been rejected and cast aside his entire life. And then he swallows the man up in His arms.

The crowds just saw the Glory of the Heavenly Father. We just saw the Glory of the Heavenly Father. That is what it means to live out the Kingdom of God – to bring the attributes of God to earth for everyone to see and experience.

Now, go, make your way through the crowd and find that man.

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Maranatha!

Sometimes life really stinks. No, sometimes it just plain sucks. A fellow preacher and friend and lost his son several years ago on this day. I can’t imagine the pain that he and his wife have endured. I really can’t. I don’t ever want to know what must be their daily struggle. But my heart breaks for them. Just the thought of losing one of my kids is absolutely horrible. As I was thinking about them and praying for them this passage from Isaiah 40 came to mind:
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Father, we long for the day when your work will be complete; when the pain from this world no longer stings and the remnants of our sin no longer remain; when we can forever soar with you. Maranatha!

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Why Don’t I Get That?

Tonight I was reading in Acts 4 and there was a v31 that really jumped out at me – “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”

Why can’t that kind of thing ever happen with me? Why can’t I experience that – the presence of God so strong that you can literally feel Him there with me? Maybe I have and just don’t remember it, or didn’t recognize it at the time. But I doubt that’s it.

Here’s kind of where I end up. If I want the greatness of God to show up in my life, I probably need to be seeking great things in His name. Those Christians in Acts 4 put themselves in a position where their lives were in serious jeopardy . . . all for the sake of THE MISSION. I think the furthest out on the ledge I’ve gone is to drive through a bad neighborhood in order to get to worship service.

God please grant me what I can’t find on my own – the courage to be boldly yours!

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Five things you can do to help your church grow

1. Encourage and edify your leaders. Love on them. Invest in them. Let them know that you appreciate them. Brag on them publicly, and sometimes even let them hear you.

2. Identify your spiritual gifts and look for opportunities to use your gifts to edify the church.

3. Invest yourself in someone else that you can disciple. Then teach them to do the same for someone else. Read 2 Timothy 2:2.

4. Hold the people in your inner circle accountable and insist that they do the same for you. This will feel uncomfortable. But it will be biblical and VERY rewarding.

5. Invite someone to come with to worship or your small group.