147,077 Fans   4,312 Followers  

When to Share Your Faith

sharing faith

When to Share Your Faith … And When To Seal Your Lips

I remember the first time a college professor made fun of my faith. I was taking a history class at a small community college, but the professor spent more time talking about his atheistic beliefs than World Civilizations. He would work jabs against Christianity into every lecture. I’d sit there and squirm. I wanted to say something, anything, to make him see the error in his ways.

Finally, half-way through the semester I got up the nerve to say something to the professor. I raised my hand and made a comment about evidence of God’s hand in history. The professor listened for ten seconds, laughed, and then he continued on with his comments. I was embarrassed, and I never spoke up again. Looking back, that incident impacted me. It made me fearful of sharing my faith. I didn’t want to be embarrassed, and I got used to keeping my thoughts to myself.

It was only years later that I realized that Jesus understood and dealt with the same thing.

In Luke, Chapter 20, we see incident after incident of those who were trying to trap Jesus, to discredit him, and to make Jesus look bad in the eyes of the people. Jesus didn’t spout off volumes of truth, proving them wrong. Verse 8 says, “And Jesus responded, ‘Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things,’” (NLT).

Jesus knew what I learned—there are some people whose minds will not be changed no matter what we say. They have hard hearts. They listen only to come up with a rebuttal.

As Proverbs 26:4 says, “Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are” (NLT).

Jesus talks about this again in Matthew 7:6: “”Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you” (NLT).

If you come up against someone like my professor you may want to share your faith, but if that doesn’t work out don’t let it stop you from reaching out to others who have softer hearts.

When to Share

As a mom of six children, one of my greatest desires has been to raise kids who can share their faith. John and I have taken our kids on mission trips. We’ve encouraged them to be shining beacons wherever they are. We’ve taught them how to share their faith by knowing what to look for.

How can they do that? By going through these steps when reaching out to others:

  • Get them to trust you as a Christian.
  • Get them curious about Jesus.
  • Get them to ask questions.
  • Get them to consider making changes in their own lives.
  • Invite them to have a personal relationship with Jesus.*

Jesus knew that there were some people who wanted to hurt him, to kill him. Yet He was always on the lookout for those with seeking hearts.

In your own life, know that there will be times when sharing your faith will not be easy or fruitful. There will be times when your words will bounce off hard hearts.

Instead of being discouraged, like Jesus, look for those who trust you, are curious and ask questions. Those are the people worth spending time with. The time you spend with soft-hearted people will hopefully reap eternal rewards!

*These principles are taken from the book I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus by Don Everts and Doug Schnapps

Costly Mistakes

costlymistake

When it comes to parenting, what’s more important God or money? It may be easy to say “God” until our kids make a costly mistake . . . it’s then our true colors come out.

It happened to us just a year or so ago. Our teenage daughter was right behind us in her car, driving home from church, when we received a phone call. She’d been cresting a hill just five houses down when she hit the back of a parked car. Thankfully, she and her brother—who was in the car with her—didn’t get a scratch. The other car had some damage, but my daughter’s car was totaled. (Can you hear the dollar signs?)

John and I had sacrificed by giving her our old car instead of selling it or trading it in. Not only that, we’d just spent nearly a thousand dollars in engine repairs, and since we only had minimal insurance on it, it was all gone. Add to it, we had to buy another (used) car since we had two teen drivers who needed to get to school and work.

In Luke 16:15 Jesus said, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts.” John and I strive to be good, godly, loving, forgiving parents, but inside I wanted to rant. Our daughter should have been paying better attention. Her irresponsibility just robbed us of that money we’d worked so hard to save.

walkingthrough

While I ranted (mostly internally), my husband John offered our daughter grace. He dealt with the totaled car. John also spent weeks searching for another used car. More than that, He used that experience to share about God’s grace. God gives us what we don’t deserve, and He’s there to pick up the pieces when we mess up. My husband’s words explained this. His actions proved this.
My soul settled down after a few hours, but this event really showed me I had given money a prominent place in my mind and heart. This wasn’t the only time one of my children caused a costly life lesson, and like my friend Phil shares in our co-authored book Lead Your Family Like Jesus, it’s what your child learns from the mistake that matters most.

Moving Beyond Mistakes

Grace-filled family leadership is all about turning mistakes into opportunities for growth. Jesus modeled this when, after His resurrection, he encountered Peter—who three times had denied even knowing Jesus after the latter’s arrest. It could have been a humiliating rejection for Peter, but Jesus made sure it wasn’t … (You can read about it in John 21:7-9, 12-19)

Instead of dressing Peter down or giving him the silent treatment, Jesus restored him to service. We need to do the same with our children. It’s easy to say, but hard to do—especially when you see one of your kids make a very costly mistake.

I remember one such time when my son, who was then in his twenties, dropped out of law school. It could have been a defining moment—in a bad way. My response could have set him up for failure.

But I helped him step back and say, “There’s a lesson to be learned here.” Yes, a lot of money had been spent in an unsuccessful venture, but maybe some life lessons could be learned from the experience.

“What positive things did you learn about yourself from law school?” I asked him. He said he learned he could work hard and that he was smart enough to do the work. He shared other positive things, too.

I then asked, “What could you have done differently?”

He replied that when he received feedback on his performance, he didn’t use the information well. When he did better on a test than he expected, he celebrated; when he received what he expected, he didn’t investigate it further. If he got a lower-than-expected grade, he didn’t go back to the teacher and ask what he could have done better. Instead of talking to the people who were grading the papers to find out how to be successful, he consulted his friends. In the end they were not a reliable source of the advice or help he needed.

We talked about communication, pride, starting new projects, tackling the routine parts of a job before the exciting parts, not majoring in minors, and seeking feedback.

Perhaps someday you’ll need to help your child work through an expensive life lesson. If so, remember that disappointments may be God’s appointments to draw us closer to Him. While we want to protect our children from hardship, that’s impossible. Instead, we may be called to lead by walking them gracefully through the valley and guiding them through the shadows.

What about you? Has your child made a costly mistake? How did you react?

Jesus knows our hearts, yet our heart-loves are often revealed during a costly mistake. Pray today and ask God to help you serve Him as master above all!

Do You Pray Your Child Will Someday Turn To God?

girl with butterfly wings

I can clearly remember the day my 14-year-old daughter can home from youth camp. She’d gone as a junior counselor, but she came home a changed girl. Leslie grew up in church, she loved God, and she tried to be obedient to her father and me, but at that camp she repented of her sin and accepted Christ for herself. When she returned home, she was hungry to know God more and to read His Word. She asked her dad and me hard questions about the Bible (we had great conversations!) . . . and she shared God’s truth with her friends.

Luke 15:8-10 talks about the woman who lost one of her silver coins and then rejoiced when it was found. I love verse 10. “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

You can bet there was much rejoicing with my husband John and me to see the transformation in our daughter! And the truth is, although God used the camp as the moment of my daughter’s repentance and salvation, that moment came after years of John and me modeling a relationship with Christ to her. It came after years of teaching her the Bible and explaining God’s plan for His people. It came after prayers for my daughter—too many to count—that started from the day I found out I was pregnant with her.

Do you pray that your child will someday turn to God?

Yes, we can hope and pray our children will have their own relationship with Christ, but we also must strive to be intentional about sharing our faith and about modeling abiding in Him in our daily lives. My co-authors and I talk about this in our book, Lead Your Family Like Jesus:

Time to Follow the Leader
Jesus was a model for “being in the moment.” I don’t think training His disciples was a hit-and-miss thing. Since Jesus was intentional about all He did on earth, the leading of the men closest to Him was no doubt done with thoughtfulness and an understanding that can only come from a heaven-sent vision. As He walked together with His disciples on the journey of life, Jesus observed them in the moment, listened to them, and answered their questions.

I’d like to think that the time Jesus spent walking to and from work alongside his earthly father, Joseph, resting in the midday for a meal with him, and asking him questions helped to prepare Jesus to offer the same kind of relaxed fellowship to His disciples. Like father, like son—in more ways than one.

That doesn’t just apply then, but also now. Remember what Jesus said:

For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them. (Matthew 18:20)

The grace of Jesus’ presence can be with us today. Two thousand years after He walked on earth, His beckoning voice still calls, saying, “Come to Me,” and “Abide in Me.”

babyblueLLJ

Young children live fully in the moment. They aren’t thinking of the past or looking toward the future. Crying, skipping, or jumping up and down, they live in a real-time world and hunger for you to be there with them.

One of my favorite images of a parent in the moment with a child is my sister-in-law, Susanne, talking with her children when they were young. Because of a hearing loss, it’s a challenge for her to understand what people are saying unless they’re faced directly toward her.
So whenever her little ones wanted to speak with her, Suzanne would kneel down, lovingly hold their face with both hands, and listen with her eyes and ears to what they had to say. It’s a beautiful picture of listening that we can incorporate into our parenting.

I also like to think of Jesus doing the same thing as we turn to Him for help. Can you picture the tenderness in His eyes? Can you imagine His desire to lead you with tender care?

Sometimes as moms we may feel weak when we have to turn to God over and over and over again, but He wants to be there for us. He wants us to come to Him for help. We only do our role as leaders well, as parents well, when we are following Jesus. It’s then we walk in a way that is worthy of our children following.

Hoping that our children will turn to God is not enough, we must put feet to our prayers. We must live in the moment with our children and turn to God in the moment to gain the help He is more than willing to give.

More about Lead Your Family Like Jesus
Does your family need a five-star general at the helm? A psychologist? A referee? Ken Blanchard, best-selling co-author of The One Minute Manager and Lead Like Jesus, points to a better role model: the Son of God. Joined by veteran parents and authors Phil Hodges and Tricia Goyer, renowned business mentor Blanchard shows how every family member benefits when parents take the reins as servant-leaders. Moms and dads will see themselves in a whole new light—as life-changers who get their example, strength, and joy from following Jesus at home. This user-friendly book’s practical principles and personal stories mark the path to a truly Christ-centered family, where integrity, love, grace, self-sacrifice, and forgiveness make all the difference.

Order your copy here, and for more from Tricia, visit her website.

Since You Are Being Watched . . . Be Humble

thinkingchair2

It’s strange to me that I’m often invited to speak in front of groups. I’m always a bit nervous, a bit excited, but mostly I’m amazed. First, I’m amazed because people want to hear what I think, what’s in my heart. I’m also amazed because I have something to say.

Years ago I would have never believed where I am now. I was as low as I could get. I was in a dark place. When I tried to control my life, I made every mistake imaginable.

As a teenager I rebelled and I followed “pleasure” instead of God. At fifteen years old, I found myself pregnant and had an abortion. At seventeen, I dropped out of high school and had my son, but in the middle of the dropping out and having the baby I accepted God’s leadership over my life . . . and my life has never been the same.

I love what Luke 1:52 says, “He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble.”

There is no explanation for the fact that I’ve been able to write thirty-five books, or speak on television programs, or even share my heart with you today. No explanation except God. I saw what a mess I got myself into. I felt the pain and the shame, and I’ve been amazed what God has chosen to do with my life . . . and as a result my children’s lives. My co-authors and I talk about breaking the sin cycle in our book Lead Your Family like Jesus (Focus on the Family/Tyndale):

thinkingchair3Time to Break the Cycle
When we turn from Jesus’ humble example and Edge God Out, the trickle-down effect on our children is profound. When pride and fear take possession of our hearts, the damage to our kids is long-lasting and far-reaching. In fact, walking away from God has been the root of dysfunction in families since the beginning of time.

Adam and Eve wanted to be like God. When they succumbed to the temptations of pride and fear, they ended up hiding in the bushes. Their firstborn child, Cain, also took matters into his own hands and killed his younger brother, Abel, in a fit of prideful anger.

… Prideful or fear-filled parents tend to be quick to judge, quick to take offense, quick to speak, and quick to push blame away and pull praise closer. They embrace what looks good in their eyes—even when, deep down, they know it’s not right.
Imagine the peace in a home where humble parents, following the example of Jesus, taking this advice to heart:

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen,
slow to speak and slow to become angry.
(James 1:19)

Edging God Out not only affects current family relationships and the character of the next generation, it will also influence generations to come. The Bible tells us that the sins of the fathers will be carried to the third and fourth generation. That’s why it’s important for parents to imitate the humility of Jesus—and break the chain.

I love today’s Scripture passage that talks about this very thing: “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” Luke 14:11.

Our natural tendency is to control our lives and to make sure no one takes advantage of us or hurts us. Yet when we follow the example of Jesus, humble ourselves, and be slow to speak or to get angry, then we are modeling an example for our kids that they’ll learn to live by—after all, kids live what they see.

Are you willing to get on your knees before God and relinquish every part, EVERY part, of your life to Him? I guarantee you will not be disappointed by His plans for you. I also guarantee it’s only as you walk in humility and submission will you be the servant leader your children will benefit from following.

By the way, now through May 5, Lead Your Family Like Jesus is available for $1.99 digital download! Order your copy here!

Are You Bent Under Pain?

bentyoungwoman2Bent under pain? Hunched under shame? Let Jesus lift your head.

Today’s reading takes us to an unnamed woman who is physically bound by a disability that caused her to be hunched over for eighteen years.

Can you picture the woman standing in the temple? Her head is downcast—not by her own choice, but because of a painful disability. She walks with her feet to the ground. She can talk to others, but she cannot look up into their faces. It would be easy for someone like her to retreat and hide away. Being hunched over—bound up—limits so much.

I’ve never had a physical disability like this woman, but I’ve been “bound” just the same. There have been times I’ve had a really hard time forgiving others for hurting me, and I had a really hard time forgiving myself.

There is one example that stands out in my mind, and sometimes it’s hard to share. You see, when I was fifteen years old I found myself pregnant. Scared, confused, ashamed, I chose abortion. I carried the pain of that for ten years. I was disabled in life. Even though I’d dedicated my life to God at age seventeen, I was spiritually hunched over and couldn’t stand up straight for many years. Then Jesus called to me . . . and He brought me to Him.

“He placed his hands on her, and she immediately stood up straight and praised God,” (Luke 13:13 God’s Word)

Jesus placed His hands on me through a Bible Study called Forgiven and Set Free.

Just like the woman in Luke 13:10-17, my head was lifted. Forgiveness helped me to lift by eyes to my Savior and finally get a good look at the world around me.

It took God’s healing power to help me to forgive myself, and to forgive others. It took time to forgive my mom, who drove me to the abortion. (She thought she was helping me.) It took time to forgive my boyfriend who pushed me to abortion. Yet I’ve discovered that when we forgive we’re the ones who find freedom. Ken, Phil, and I talk about this in our book, Lead Your Family Like Jesus. Here is an excerpt from that book:

Many of us don’t understand what forgiveness is all about. It’s not forgetting or dismissing the impact of a wrong. It’s choosing not to let that wrong dominate the future of your life and relationships. Forgiveness is “giving” the infraction to God. It’s as if we’re saying, “Here You go, Father; this is no longer my concern. Please take care of the matter in Your wisdom and according to Your will.”

The price of forgiveness is letting go of the need to receive an apology or repayment for a wrong. If you hold on to either as a precondition of forgiveness, you’ll never have an unhindered heart.

You may understand all this, but inside you still may be fighting it: “I know it’s what I’m supposed to do, but I can’t do it in my own strength.” The good news is God doesn’t ask you to. Instead, He asks that you simply share your desire to forgive, and surrender to Him your unwillingness to forgive.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

daisy2

What happens when we ask God to make forgiveness possible in us? The reward is a heart freed of bitterness. There is also the potential of restored relationship and new hope and joy for the future! What could be better than that?

In the encouraging words sent to me recently by a friend, “The one who apologizes first is the bravest. The one who forgives first is the strongest. The one who forgets first is the happiest.”

There is never a good reason to forfeit peace and freedom to an unforgiving heart. Will you turn to God today to help you be a brave, strong, and happy family leader? He wants nothing more than that.

It’s from a place of freedom and truth that we lead our children best. If you need help, you know the One to speak to. He’s just a prayer away.

Friend, do you feel hunched over? Turn to Jesus. Ask Him to lift your head.

You can find out more information about Lead Your Family Like Jesus at www.LeadYourFamilyBook.com and I would love to connect with you at Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Hide me
Sign up below to receive free study materials!
Enter your email address:
Show me