Saturday, October 19, 2013

Messed Up

In May, 2012, a friend shared this postcard on Facebook and inspired a blog post that I decided to revisit and update to reflect my thoughts today.

If you keep a journal, you can relate to the fear of having someone read it and find out how messed up you are—what you honestly think and feel when you have the freedom to not hold back. When I originally wrote this post, my life was far more messed up than I wanted to let on, and my journal reflected it. Today, the journal I am keeping for a difficult-but-necessary process reveals that I still have some internal messes to clean up, but I guess I need to let that be okay for a while if I want to get rid of them for good. This means I must stop writing as if a kitten is hiding under my bed waiting to dive into my diary as soon as I leave the room and reveal my ugliness to the world.

Today, seeing this kitten's face again reminds me that there is Someone who knows the contents of my journals whether I am being completely honest on paper or not. He knows my thoughts before I scrawl them out. When I mask my feelings for others, or even for myself, I am not hiding a thing from Him. Unlike the idea of a family member or friend snooping a peek at my diary, the knowledge that God knows the contents of my heart brings deep comfort. He knows me to the core, yet what He sees does not keep Him from adoring me, so why not put it all out there?

What about you? Do you communicate your private thoughts, or even your prayers, as if someone is listening in and might use it against you? Today, join me in the challenge of being completely open and honest with the One who knows our messiness and loves us anyway.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts . . .” Pslam 139:23 (NASB).

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

When to Share Your 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

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Waiting for Dreams to Come True

The October issue of Guideposts magazine (pictured here) includes an article that I helped a dear friend write. I’m so excited! Because the story is ghostwritten, my name is not on it, but I could care less. Not only did I love helping Lindy and her husband, Jim get their miraculous story out there, but writing for Guideposts has been a goal of mine for as long as I have been attending writers conferences. I have come close to acceptance in the past and watched many friends accomplish my desire, and it finally happened.

The other day, as I thought about how long I have been writing, how many times it felt like certain  dreams would never come true, and how many goals are yet to be accomplished, I found myself thanking God for His timing. The first story that I submitted to Guideposts and came so close to receiving a yes on was good, but it wasn’t nearly as powerful as the one I recently received sample copies of. In those years in between, my writing has grown and so have I. The acceptance came when I desperately needed a reminder that God had good things in store for me. It took weeks for me to recognize how sweet it was of Him to send this reminder through something I have wanted for so long.

Now I am waiting for other dreams to come true. It looks like one is a step closer to becoming a reality, but while I wait I will use the Guideposts story as motivation to trust my Father’s timing, knowing He knows exactly when we are ready for a moment of success.

What dreams are you still waiting to see come true? How is God building your patience?