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How to Share Your Faith part 3

How to Share your Faith Part 3.

As I said in Part 2, I think one of the reasons we do not take some of the steps outlined by Keller or Wilberforce is because we are afraid. So I would like to finish this post by talking about fearlessness.


Fearlessness is the natural domain of the Christian. In fact God says over 80 times in the Bible “Do not be afraid.” This is especially important to remember when sharing our faith.

God commands us in 2 Timothy 4:5 “Do the work of an evangelist.” But just a few chapters before that we read, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

God has not given you a spirit of fear, so do not be afraid.

In my life I have found that Fearlessness comes from three places- grace, peril, and good deeds.

Grace

1) Fearlessness comes from an appreciation of the Gospel of Grace.
Just look at the popular Christmas movie, It’s a wonderful Life. One minute George is so afraid, he does not know what to do other than throw himself into the river. But when he gets a glimpse of what could have been, then he is filled with gratitude and the fear is gone. He comes to a new appreciation of how much grace he has already been given and it makes him fearless even in the face of prison time.


Saint Patrick is another good example of this. Historians have noted how successful he was at evangelizing the Irish. In his confession he tells us,

“Before I was humbled I was like a stone lying in deep mire, and he that is mighty came and in his mercy raised me up indeed lifted me high up and placed me on top of the wall. And from there I ought to shout out in gratitude to the Lord for his great favors in this world and forever, that the mind of man cannot measure.”


It was because Patrick had come to appreciate the grace of God who had found him “like a stone lying deep in the mud” that he was fearless as an evangelist.

Peril

2) Fearlessness comes from our personal experience of peril.
I took one of my children to see the world cup final in Canada last summer. On the morning after the game we were having breakfast and I took the opportunity to have a dad moment and talk to them about sexual purity. Their eyes were wide as saucers but it was an important subject we needed to cover as they enter adolescence. I was fearless though because I have personally experienced the peril of making bad choices in my life. I was able to fearlessly tell my kids that purity paves the way to intimacy because of my own experience of peril.


Another great example of this is Brian “head” Welch.

He used to play with the band Korn. Brian was hard into drugs and drinking and other destructive behaviors before he met Jesus. After he became a Christian though his witnessing to others was fearless because he had personally experienced the peril of living for himself and giving in to sin. If you listen to his album you will hear how his own experience of peril has made him a fearless evangelist.

 

Good deeds


3) Fearlessness comes from the disarming nature of good deeds. Jesus said let your good deeds shine. This is so true. When you live out the gospel in tangible ways by caring for the vulnerable, the outcast, and the poor, others see it and get curious. If you do that long enough then people start coming to you asking you why you live the way you do.

Let me tell you, when someone comes to you asking that question, it frees you from fear because you realize they are curious and they actually want to know your story. This has happened with our friends who saw us raising money to provide clean drinking water in India. When we created the 50/50 Well project (facebook.com/5050well) it opened lots of doors to talk about our faith. Of course we did it because we wanted to help people in India get clean drinking water. But the conversations we had with friends and neighbors was a nice byproduct. I have also seen it happen with other families I know who are opening their homes up to house at risk children through Safe Families. When they show such radical hospitality it makes people curious.


The truth is that when we live out Jesus’ command, to lay our lives down for others, it is attractive to the outside world. When selfless deeds, prompted by your love for others, go before you, it leads to a sincere fearlessness in sharing your faith. After all, people are curious and asking us why we are doing these things. We are just answering their questions. We are not trying to push anything on anyone.


If you and I will pay attention to these three areas- grace, peril and good deeds, we will see an increase in our fearlessness. And the good news of God’s grace will reach more and more people as a result.

 

 

Posted by Rich McCaskill with
in Psalms

God's longest poem (part 3)

Psalm 119 is God's longest poem and it offers us food for the soul. Already we have looked at two aspects 1) Biblical Faith is about being real with God and  2) God's word is the path to happiness

Today we turn to digest three more truths-

3) God uses affliction to bring us to himself –

 

This is a morsel of truth Psalm 119 offers us. But if we are honest we prefer it was not there.You ca

n see it in verses 67 and 71.

  • "I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word." verse 67
  • "My suffering was good for me , for it taught me pay attention to your decrees" verse 71

I think we would rather read that God will protect us from all harm and offer us a life free from pain and suffering. But that is not what it says.

Jesus promises us that "here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows" (John 16:33) 

The good news is that God can use those trials and sorrows to bring us back to him.

What have you suffered? What has been taken from you that was traumatic and devastating? Maybe it was your health, your reputation, your retirement, a loved one. Whatever it was, there will be a day when God will wipe every tear from your eye. If you will give your suffering to God you will find that he is there in the midst of it with you to redeem it and to give you the power to endure it.

I have friends who recently went through a miscarriage followed by a shocking discovery that one of them had a rare and deadly disease. And yet, as I have watched, they have clung to God and clung to each other like never before. Their marriage and their faith have actually been strengthened through this suffering. We do not understand why God allows it sometimes. But we do know that he will in some way bring Good out of it.

 

 

4) we would love and treasure SCRIPTURE more If we COULD See it with Jesus in the centeR

  • "You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope"  verse 114
  • "I rejoice in your word like one who discovers great treasure" verse 162
  •  " I hate and abhor all falsehood but I love your instructions" verse 163 
  • " those who love your instruction have great peace and do not stumble"   verse 165
  • "I have obeyed your laws for I love them very much"  verse 167

The theme in these verses is clear. The psalmist loves God's word! He loves it! It is like a treasure to him and it brings many rewards to those who cherish it.

This is not where we are.

Most of us have access to Bibles on our phones, and on our tablets. We have at least three or four different kinds of Bibles laying around our homes as well. And yet, we do not treasure it. We do not dote on it. We see it rather as an obligation. Or as a "been there, done that." Apparently Mark Twain was severely turned off by the Bible. As the story goes, he used to have dreams of lying on his bed under a huge family heirloom Bible on his chest weighing down on him and suffocating the life out of him. You may not be that bad off, but do you treasure it?

I know I that often times I do not.

The solution to bridging this gap is to see that God's word is an amazing masterpiece all pointing towards Jesus.

Photo by 3vidence on Flickr

Jesus is the perfect and true king that all the other biblical kings were pointing towards. Jesus is the perfect and true prophet that all the other prophets were hinting at. And Jesus is the perfect and true priest who all the other priests were foreshadowing.

Tim Keller highlights this in a fictitious conversation between a first century pagan and a first century Christian. The pagan is trying to understand how Christianity works. As he thinks about all the trappings of the various pagan religions he asks the Christian about our temples, our priests, and our sacrifices. But for each of these the Christian confounds the pagan. He says, "We don't have a temple, Jesus is our temple. He is the place where God comes to meet with humanity. We don't have priests, Jesus is our priest. He is the go-between that mediates our connection to God. We don't make sacrifices, Jesus is our sacrifice. He gave himself on our behalf to take away our guilt and shame" In essence he is saying that all of Scripture is about Jesus and as such Christianity is utterly unique among the faiths of the world.

This is what Jesus was explaining to the people on the Road to Emmaus in Luke 24 where he shows them that all the writings of the law and the prophets pointed in fact to him. When our eyes are opened like theirs were, this beautiful fact about the Bible transforms it from a crushing weight to a beautiful treasure. The laws that used to condemn us now have been already kept by the person and work of Jesus.

And this leads us to the last morsel on our buffet.

5) GOD is the seeking shepherd even though we like sheep have gone astray

  • "Oh that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands" verse 5
  • "Please don't give up on me!" verse 8
  • "Keep me from lying to myself" verse 29 
  • "I have wandered away like a lost sheep. Come and find me for I have not forgotten your commandments." verse 176

 

These verses show a deep awareness of being distant and lost. The psalmist realizes he has the capacity to lie to himself. He even calls himself a lost sheep, one who has wandered away. And the good news of Psalm 119 is that God is the pursuing shepherd.

He is seeking us as his lost sheep. He is hunting for us like buried treasure. And this is such good news. Biblical faith is different than "Religion". "Religion" is about man's attempt to find God. The Bible is about God's attempts to find us. And he does that through the life death and resurrection of Jesus.

When we see this as the uniting thread of the Bible it does become a treasure to us. It is then that we accept its invitation to have a real relationship with God. A relationship where we do not have to pretend. A relationship where even our sufferings are used for good ends. A relationship where we are the pursued and God is the pursuing shepherd.

I know there is a lot to feast on in this long buffet of soul-food. I have highlighted a few of the morsels that I think we all should enjoy. What verse in Psalm 119 keeps you coming back for more?

Posted by Rich McCaskill with

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