Living out the story

Aren’t cliff hangers the worse? 

To be Continued…

No one wants to see this at the end of a TV episode. And don’t even get me started on movies with 50,000 parts. Or book series where the next book isn’t coming out for another 18 months. 

Just tell me what happened!

Thankfully, the Bible tells us the whole story of Jesus. 

This is also why I’m trying to take it easy on the apostles as I read through the gospel. They didn’t have the full story like I do.

Come on, Peter! 

Thomas, what’s your problem?!?

James and John, did you seriously just ask Jesus to give you the best seats in the house? 

Here’s how I look at it: When I start doing everything Jesus asks me to do–without running my mouth first–I can pick on the apostles. 

By tracing the the faithfulness of God throughout His story, I am learning how to trust Him when I don’t have the full story (which is a lot).

Marvin Yoder, my teacher for Bible Interpretation, taught us about the Principle of Application today. I loved Mr. Yoder’s thoughts on seeing ourselves doing the works of Jesus and the early church. 

As Christians, the Bible is the final authority in our lives. However, if I never apply it to my daily life, it’s still just a story.

If Jesus healed, so can I.

If Peter could stand before a crowd and know exactly what to say by the Holy Spirit, so can I.

If Paul and Silas can sing praises in jail after being beaten for their faith, so can I.

 I’ve reached the point in my faith where I’m convinced that not taking the Bible to heart, that not living out the scriptures as practical, do-able truths is the number one reason the world sees the gospel as powerless. 

 

 

 

 

Escape from Bubble Land

Okay, I want to talk about something that might or might not get me in trouble….? 

My dearest brothers and sisters in Christ (those who are not Christians, this is actually a really good time for  you to let me know what you think) we are all overthinking the “in the world, but not of the world” scripture.

Let’s take a minute to look at what Jesus actually said: 

15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world (NLT).

I am not convinced, based on what Jesus said, that we are called to live in Bubble Land. It’s just….not even biblical, okay? There’s no other way to say it. 

Many Bible teachers hammer home that in order to not be contaminated by evil influences Christians must stay away from non-believers.

Any time I hear this kind of teaching my thoughts go to: 

Wow. What about Jesus and the disciples and the early Christians who hung out with all kinds of people? 

Seriously. You can’t read the New Testament and reach the conclusion that it was the nonbelievers’ fault for a Christian’s poor behavior.

If anything, Paul (and the others) chastised the Christians for their weak faith, for not following the teachings of the Bible. It was his or her own choice!

This is why having a home base–be it a friend, your family, or a small group–is key. You can’t live a missional lifestyle and not be accountable to someone. 

Choosing to not share the gospel because you want to live in a bubble is not okay.

 

 

 

 

You never asked me

Asking questions is the greatest way I get permission to step into the life of someone else. 

I am fascinated by real life stories and chats about books, movies, music, etc. 

Other people have shared stories with me that their own families have never heard before. 

“You never told me that!” is their first response, which is quickly answered with, “Well, you never asked me.”

I think “You never asked me” is one of the saddest things anyone can say. 

What it says to me is that a man or woman is willing to share their stories or experiences, but no one’s taken an interest in his or her life. 

How many times in our day do you and I pass up opportunities to connect with others?

As a Christian, here’s an even scarier question that I’m asking myself daily:

How many times, whether through busyness or unwillingness, have I passed up an opportunity to share the gospel?

This is really gnawing at me…

One thing I am asking for is a daily opportunity to: share the gospel, pray for someone, encourage someone, or help someone. 

I want my daily life to be about other people. 

We read about the unity of the early church, how miracles, signs, and wonders followed the preaching of the gospel and say, “That’s what we want!”

It starts by saying hello or asking question. 

It starts by asking for permission to step into someone’s life. 

Speak up!

In 7th grade, I struck up a conversation with a friend of mine in math class. She wanted to talk about faith and the differences between my faith and her faith. 

She was not Protestant or even Catholic–I’m not going to say what group she’s in because that’s not what’s important to this story.

“Tell me what you believe, Audra.”

So I gave her the gospel in a nutshell: 

Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a perfectly righteous life that fulfilled every requirement of the Old Testament law, was crucified by the Romans because of the Jewish leaders lies, died, and rose 3 days later. Accepting His free gift of salvation takes away our sins and credits us with His righteousness. There’s nothing at all we can do to earn this gift.

It was the simplest way I knew of to tell her about Jesus. (This summation is much, much better than the bumbling version I presented back then.)

Now it was her turn…

I said, “Okay, friend, tell me what you believe.” 

“Well,” she said, “I can’t tell you.”

By this point, I was confused. 

“You can’t tell me because you don’t know?” I asked.

“No, I can’t tell you because it’s hard to explain, but if you call so-and-so he can explain it to you” she handed me a piece of paper with the name and number of a church leader.

I’m pretty sure my response could’ve been better, but I simply told her the truth.

“I don’t want to call him. I want you tell me. I’m friends with you and not him. Besides, how can you believe in something that’s so complicated you can’t explain it to others?”

Every Christian must be able to share the gospel. 

It’s not enough to bring people to church.

It’s not enough to give people a book.

It’s not enough to show people a video.

YOU must be able to share with your friends and family the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Is there anything wrong with church or books or videos?

Absolutely not! 

But evangelistic tools can never replace our Christ given mandate to OPEN OUR MOUTHS and share the gospel. 

 

 

 

Share your story

I want to share a praise report with you…

A father and daughter were reunited because my dad shared our story with the father. 

The father is watching our video series to help him navigate this new relationship. 

And a couple of other men are now encouraged to reach out to their abandoned children, too. 

I am incredibly humbled by this news, especially since sharing this part of my life has been a stretch for me.  
Thank the Lord for allowing my dad and I to help others. God gets all of the glory because it’s only by His grace any of this happened. 

Abandonment is a big issue in our world. A growing percentage of children are being ditched by the people who are supposed to love them the most. 

Sadly, most of them see God as another bad parent and walk the other way. 

One of the biggest desires of my heart is to help these hurting children–child and adult alike–see the love of God for them. 

The revelation of God’s love will heal the wounds of broken hearts. 

The power of redemption is best expressed through the narratives of redeemed and restored lives. 

I encourage you to share your story and watch how God uses it to change lives. 

Our job, His job

I read at the end Acts today that King Agrippa was almost persuaded to become a Christian. 

Paul shared the gospel so effectively that King Agrippa’s statement showed what it all boiled down to:

It was a choice. 

King Agrippa wasn’t confused about anything. He simply made a choice to decline the offer. 

The reality is that we all have a choice to make when it comes to Christ. 

No amount of arm twisting or beating people over the head with a Bible will convince everyone to accept God’s free gift of salvation. 

Of course, the goal is always to see others come to know Christ. Their eternity is at stake!

We’re all called to share the gospel with the world. The Great Commission given by Christ Himself is not to be ignored. 

Just remember that the choice to accept Christ is a personal one. Our job is to share the gospel and to pray. 

The Holy Spirit’s job is to work in their hearts. 

Don’t confuse your job with His or confuse behavior modification with true relationship. 

Paul told King Agrippa it was his hope that he be saved. At the end of the conversation, though, King Agrippa made a choice. 

Paul never spoke with him again (that we know of) but he knew that King Agrippa understood the gospel message. 

We all have friends and family who are almost convinced. They’re sitting on the fence because of doubt and unbelief. 

Keep praying!

Keep looking for opportunities to talk about God. 

There’s too much at stake for us to give up so easily. However, we can’t forget that the choice is not ours to make for them. 

30 seconds or less

I just watched The Golden Globes for the first time. There were so many movies that I had never even heard of!

I’m not one to follow celebrities, but it was interesting to see the fashion and winners and the general hoopla surrounding the whole affair. 

I’m surprised at how little time they give the winners to say thank you. 

Only 30 seconds to express gratitude for projects that took a year or more to make?

I can’t even imagine what I would say or do under those circumstances, though, as a Christian, I’m often under the same pressure when asked questions about my faith. 

Short answers are hard to give, yet that is what many people demand. 

Explain God in 30 seconds or less…go!

Wow. 

How can I explain the love of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son, and the job of the Holy Spirit in that time frame?

We are instructed to have an answer ready for any occasion. 

We are also told that the Holy Spirit will tell us what to say. 

And most conversations about faith ebb and flow nicely between those to paradigms.

 The difficulty level, for me, comes in trying to express the fullness of joy I have found in my relationship with God. 

It’s rich and deep and intimate and fun and challenging and intentional (and I could keep going). 

I usually get really worked up in my explanations because there’s just so much I can say, which is why I can relate to all of the Golden Globe winners. 

Sometimes I can wrap up my thankfulness in 30 seconds or less, sometimes I can’t and I keep talking until the commercial break.