Sunday, April 23, 2023

Creative Ways to Share Your Faith When Evangelism Scares You

Hey Friend,

I deliberated over which t-shirt to pull on with my black yoga pants. The bright scarlet one with the adorable lamb caricature spoke to me. I threw my hair back in a scrunchie and headed off to my "Aging Backwards" exercise class. I love the class because it is a fun combination of dance, yoga, and pilates movements. 

The new session was starting, but creature of habit that I am, I headed for my usual spot in class. I immediately noticed a face I hadn't seen before, and she had her mat rolled out beside mine. 

As other ladies greeted each other and gabbed, she stood quietly by herself looking around tentatively. I'm an introvert whom God has called to be an extrovert for His glory, so I knew this was my cue.

"Hi, my name is Bev. I haven't seen you before. Are you new today?" I said with a smile. 

"Yes," she replied. "My name is Katherine and I'm not sure what I've gotten myself into," she laughed.

"Don't worry," I reassured her. "We were all new once and I'm sure you'll catch on quickly. And if you don't, most of us go the wrong way half the time anyway." I chuckled -- hoping to set her at ease.

"I like your shirt," she continued --probably happy to have someone to talk to. "The lamb is adorable...what does your shirt say?" she queried as she studied me.

"He left the 99 to rescue me (Matthew 18:12)," I stated. Her blank stare begged for a better explanation, so I continued. "It's about the parable of the lost sheep in the Bible. Have you heard that story?"

"No," she said quietly.

"It's one of my favorite stories about how much Jesus loves us and will go to the ends of the earth to save us." I was able to quickly get the words in before class started. 

So what's my point?

A simple cute and colorful t-shirt opened a dialogue and an opportunity to plant a seed. I hope I get the opportunity to continue to water it, but even if I don't, I know we are in such times that we can't be shy about our faith. The clock is ticking and now is not the time to be ashamed of our faith.

"Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge me before others, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven." (Matthew 10:32)

I have several t-shirts designed and distributed by a company called Love in Faith.  If I watch, I can score a t-shirt I like for only $10. -- not bad for a conversation starter.

Recently, One shirt with the quote, "Tell Your Mountain About Your God" caught the attention of a barrista in Starbucks and another seed was planted. 

"Not Perfect, Just Forgiven," has garnered some comments as well. Who would have thought t-shirts could be a way of opening doors to share your faith?

This next idea, at first, struck me as possibly inappropriate. It was an idea I heard about on a Christian podcast. The speaker talked about how he purchased tracts, which succinctly and colorfully, shared the Gospel message. He would paper clip a crisp one dollar bill to each tract and then would leave them places to be "discovered."

Some of his favorite "hiding places" were the snack and beer aisles in the grocery store, on a table in a coffee shop or bar, and this is the one that got me -- in the bathrooms of every store, mall, office building, school, medical office, hospital, hotel, bar, restaurant, etc. he visited. 

Bathrooms? Really?

Yes, bathrooms. The host, shared on one podcast, how Bible prophecy pastor JD Farag came to know the Lord because someone left a Gospel tract in a public bathroom and his heart was ripe for the Spirit to speak. 

So yes, I carry Gospel tracts, published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, with one dollar bills attached, in my purse, wherever I go. When I leave one someplace, I pray for the person who finds it because maybe their heart will be ripe to hear the truth. For tracts:

Less than 6% of Americans (according to Barna researchers) have a truly Biblical worldview. That's not many of us. How many lost souls are out there -- ripe and ready for the harvest? Thousands. Guess that means we better get to work because we are on the cusp of the tribulation, and don't we want more souls to be caught up in the rapture of believers, beforehand? You bet!

I know I don't have the spiritual gift of "Evangelism," but that doesn't excuse me from being God's messenger -- it just means I need to get a little more creative about the process. 

I hope this post has gotten your creative juices flowing. Please share in the Comments section any ideas you have for sharing your faith.

Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few." (Matthew 9:37)

Be blessed...

Sunday, January 22, 2023

What Does it Look Like to "Be Still?"

Hey Friend,

May I share a secret with you? I am not very good at "being still." Quite frankly, I stink at it. Let me give you the brief rundown on my life's work as an example...

I rarely sat still in highschool and college. Looking back, knowing what I know now, I have always struggled with anxiety and depression -- it makes sense I kept busy as a way of distracting myself from these unwelcome thoughts and feelings.

As a mom, I headed up two different MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups in two states. MOPS is a Christian outreach to young moms. I taught Sunday School for ten years to 4-5 year olds. I graduated to teaching in Christian schools and a Christian preschool.

I led numerous Bible studies and hosted our church small group. I started a Christian devotional blog ten years ago -- just about the time I started a Christian non-profit that serves children in Pakistan. I've been published three times. I raised two children to adulthood -- trying to instill God's precepts.

I took the the scripture, "Faith without works, is dead," seriously! So seriously I didn't realize I was on the slow burn train heading toward exhaustion. 

I was a "human-doing" who had forgotten how to be a "human-being."

Recently, I reitred from my place on the Redeemer Christian Board and am no longer immersed in the day in, day out operations of running a non-profit. Redeemer Christian School is now a ministry under the Youth for Christ Intl. umbrella -- what an awesome ministry!

So now what? Many have told me I need to take time for self care and to develop my creative interests. Since my vocabulary has always focused on verbs like strive, perform, serve, and do, I'm really struggling with the thought of just being still.

After six days of hard work, God needed a day to be still and rest. Jesus went away from the crowds to rest and be still in His Father's presence. If God and Jesus needed to be still -- who am I to think the precription doesn't apply to me?

I love to dig into the Hebrew and Greek meanings of words. When I researched "be still" the verb translated to "cease." In other words, the crux of the command, "Be still" indicates we are to cease whatever it is we are doing (even if it's awesome Kingdom building work) and be still in God's Word and God's presence.

The Bible reminds us several times to "Be still." When God repeats Himself in His holy word it usually means that we are going to need help and reminders to follow these important commands. "Do not be afraid" is repeated 365 times in the Bible -- one, "Do not be afraid," for every day of the year. I think God knows we will be afraid AND we will have trouble being still.

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10 emphasis mine).

I specifially put the emphasis on "Ibecause it reminds me that God is God and I am not. Jesus's work on the cross is finished. I need only to repent of my sins and accept this wondrous gift of grace -- that He took my sins with Him on that cross. My salvation's been bought and paid for, and I am free to walk in forgiveness. Nothing, on my part, needs doing.

Even if I sat on my behind and did nothing with my remaining days on earth, my eternity will be with God in heaven. Wow!

All my righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) -- expecially if I think it somehow factors into my salvation. I know this, but still I do stuff!

I have a passion for lost souls -- especially because we are traveling at warp speed on a trajectory headed directly for the end times. The Tribulation gallops ever closer which means we're on the cusp of the Rapture. 

So how do I "be still" when all this is going on? Perhaps Kingdom work doesn't always have to look like publishing a book or starting a non-profit. Perhaps the less grandiose act of being still -- so that I can be available to people who are struggling and have questions, may be what I need to aim for? Maybe if I'm not running in circles, I will be more accesible to those who may need encouragment or a listening ear?! Maybe I just need to be still so I can hear God speak!

Being still is God's command, but this is a command which needs to be worked out in MY life and may be for the good of Someone Else's life. 

Either way, Being Still is not being lazy -- just the opposite, it is being intentional in my relationship with the Lord and my relationship with others, and is for my own wellbeing.

Thank you for letting me hash this out with you. I'd love to hear your input from personal experience. I'm all ears!

Are YOU in a place where God is whispering, "be still?" How do you balance "works" with "being still?" What do you think it looks like to be still? Will you share?

Be blessed....

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