Saturday, July 26, 2008

Faith Zone Challenge, Day 4: Stand Proud

As Christians, the two things we can do to stand up for Christ are to live according to His Word and grow our own knowledge of Him. In Matthew 5:16, Christ said, "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven".

This means that we should live and act in a way that is indicative of God's Word. Scripture makes it abundantly clear clear that we should have the conviction to stand up for our faith, while at the same time, practice showing love and wisdom and making sure that our personal example backs up our words. Letting others seeing Jesus in you is the most amazing witness ever.

This past Christmas, I was standing in front of a large group of women at the corporate offices of a major bank. I had been contracted to teach a secular class about Holiday Stress Management.

Most of the class was simple life/holiday balance tips, but soon we came to a section of the material that discussed tolerance of religions during the holidays. Although I had studied the material ahead of time, I felt my temperature rise when I neared this discussion. I presented some basic information, and then allowed time for discussion. Many women talked amongst themselves and some offered some feedback for the group, but the big question finally came.

One woman raised her hand and asked, "as a Christian, what should I do when my employer tells me that I cannot have a "Christmas" party, but only a holiday party. What do I do when I am told not to display manger scenes in my cubicle, because it might offend someone?"

Now my face was getting hot. Actually I was sweating all over. Thoughts raced through my mind as I considered that my job could be on the line. But what was truly being impressed on my heart, was that my faith was on the line. Who would I stand for? Jesus or politically correctness? Would I make smile? Jesus or a big wig manager sitting in his leather chair.

I knew the politically correct answer. I knew the answer that this organization would expect me to provide on their behalf, to support their politically correct, religious non-discrimination policies. I knew that from a business standpoint, I should straddle the fence and give an answer that would appeal to everyone in the room.

What seemed like eternity was really only a few seconds, as I struggled with which road to travel. Im proud to say that in this situation, I chose the road less traveled. I expressed my beliefs in a non-judgemental way, and explained what I believed Christmas to be - based on the God sending His son to be born in a manger, eventually to die on an cross for me, so that I could be forgiven and spend eternal life with Him. I expressed my general lack of tolerance for our society's attempt to remove Christ from Christmas, and how I wanted to encourage every Christian in that room to stand up with confidence for their beliefs. I reminded them that Christianity is normally the religion that gets pushed to the back, while other religions are given more tolerance. I encouraged them to hang Merry CHRISTmas signs in their cubicles, regardless of the political stigmas.

I received some happy applause, a few cold glares, and to my surprise, a few looks of intrigue.

Unfortunately, there have been other times, when I wasnt so bold. When I felt that the potential consequences of standing up for my faith were too great, and I hid my light under a bushel, just to fit in.

These situations happened years ago, and today I am certainly much more bold in my faith that I was then. But I wonder.... what if I was truly put to the test today to stand up for Christ. What if I had to make the choice to deny Christ and live, or speak for Christ and die. What if I was faced with a situation like Cassie René Bernall, from Columbine High School. Cassie didnt lose a job for standing up for her faith, she lost her life. Would I be willing to do that?

Jesus never intended for sharing His word to be a scary, impossible, sweat-inducing burden.God meant for us to be witnesses of Jesus Christ through the natural outcome of living for him. Here are a few suggestions for sharing your faith this week, and weeks to come:
1) Try to start seeing people through Gods eyes, not your own.
2) Write out your testimony, or any story where God has moved in your life, and study it. Be ready to talk about it whenever the opportunity presents itself.
3) Dont try to impress people with Christian lingo, just tell the facts.
4) Listen t0 others. Once they think you care about them, they are all ears.
5) Pray for God to bring someone into your path whom you can witness to.
6) Study Gods word so you will be knowledgeable about discussing it.

These are merely a few, but it will get us started. Sharing your faith is kind of like riding a bike - once you take off the training wheels, you feel more confident than ever! Practice makes perfect.
Challege #4: Share your faith with three people today.

Mark 16:15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.

Prayer for today: Dear Jesus, I know I need to share your Word, so forgive me for not always doing that. Sometimes I just worry about public opinion or negative consequences, but I know that my trust is in you, you are my shield and my protection, and that you will always reign over everything. Sometimes, I simply get so bogged down with life, that I forget to allow you to use me to minister to others. Sometimes I just get stuck in my own agenda, and forget. Forgive me.

Lord, I pray that you bring 3 people into my path who did to hear a Word from you, who need a pat on the back or a hug, who need to hear that you love them. Convict my heart as to who I am to minister to. Fill my mouth with words of wisdon for ths person. Help me Lord. I know that once I get started, it will become a beautiful habit that I will no longer be hesitant to do. I cant wait to see how you are going to impact lives today through me!
In Jesus name,

Faith Zone Challenge, Day 4: Stand ProudSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


donna said...

I have often wondered what exactly Jesus expects of us in sharing the Good News. I have read and reread the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) as I wanted to see where it told me I had to go "door-to-door" to share my faith, as I have had others tell me was my duty. I don't want to do this and I don't think Jesus would want me to either. (Evangelism is not one of my gifts). Rather I feel I ought to live my life loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and body and to love others as myself and in doing that I do more to show others the Way of Christ. So today's challenge to share my faith with three other people means more to live out my faith in my daily encounters with other people so that they see me as a person who is caring and concerned about them, even a stranger to whom I am polite and perhaps am able to give more.
Peace and God Bless,
P.S. The scripture verse "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation." is actually MARK 16:15. It's refreshing to see that you, too, make mistakes as we all do,Tracie!

Karan said...

I have often made this too difficult in my life, believing that I must go mall witnessing, door-to-door, etc... Which I did. And didn't die. I also saw God move in some of those situations. But it was not in the going, but in the hope I have inside. I now believe that if I am looking with my spiritual eyes, I will have a divine appointment right in front of me - needing a word of encouragement, a phone call, a hug and a cup of coffee. God brings people to our minds and into our lives that need to hear about Him from us; I don't need to go somewhere else to find them. The fields are ripe to harvest. I want to share the verse that encourages me to live in such a way that others are driven to "ask me" about my faith and hope.

1 Peter 3:15 (NKV): But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

My new saying:
Live life on purpose,
With purpose.

People will notice the difference. My "divine appointments" will increase as my hope becomes more visible.
Thank you again, for making me think about living intentionally, which God has really been hammering home - and apparently still is!!!
In His Love and Hope,

Cindy said...

This challenge is a great one.

I love how you put in your prayer that God would bring 3 people into your path who need a 'word from the Lord, a pat on the back or a hug, or just need to hear that God loves them.

I am a very quiet person. I tend to share my faith through my life and my actions. Words of encouragment and letting others know that are loved is how people see Jesus in me.

Thank you for this challenge as it reminds me to live my life in a way that I always 'display God's glory'!!!
Blessings to you,

Anonymous said...

I think most of us are uncomfortable with the practice of "door to door" witnessing, physically going down the street knocking on one door after another. But instead of knocking on doors, focus on knocking on hearts. Instead of going with your feet looking for doors, with a clenched fist, knuckles exposed ready to rap, look with spiritual eyes to see a heart that needs to hear a gentle word, to feel a warm hug, to see a kind deed. If we keep this in mind God will bring the "doors" to us; but we have to do our part and be ready to offer what Christ has already offered to us - love, forgiveness, mercy....

So look for your 3 "doors" today - in the grocery store, at the kids' sporting events, at the neighborhood picnic, traveling on vacation, waiting for the bus or train, etc., etc., get it.

And don't be afraid to open up those doors and see what's behind them!

Christy said...

This is always a fun one for me. I am a very outgoing, talkative person. I do hair for a living (besides raising my children) so I have many opportunities to touch peoples lives. I love it because I do share my faith with all that sit in my chair. I do this from my home and so I play Christian music, and I am able to say what I want. There have been many I have been able to pray for, and just letting them know the next time they sit in my chair that I specifically prayed for the situation at hand... I have gotten great reception to this. I am so thankful for using what the Lord has blessed me with to bring Glory to HIS name. Thanks for the challenge... we shall see what the Lord brings into my path today.
This morning the Lord woke me up with the song... in my life, be lifted high, in my world, be lifted high, in our love be lifted high... it's by Hillsong I don't know the name of it... but that is the chorus... great song, check it out!
Thanks again Lord for waking me with a song!

MrsProverbs31 said...

Okay, that's a challenge. It's really a challenge, because I'm thinking the only people I can witness to are my neighbors who I don't even know whether they are walking with Christ or not.

Perhaps, I'm letting my imagination run wild. I do have two little ones who have not accepted Christ yet. But, I will pray God will bring those opportunities to cross my path and give me a chance to share my faith.

Any, I came here from your P31 devotional on Tuesday. I want to let you know how much that has caught my eyes today as one of the things He has asked me to do is one I didn't expect He would. So, I'm working hard to bring it from my head to my heart. It has challenged me what faith really means to me.

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracie,

I'd like to let you know how much I've cherished your 5-day challenge. It has really has made a difference in the way I think, feel and act. Wish you could have a 365-day challenge. This has forced me to get up before my home-health attendant comes each morning to assist with getting myself showered, dressed, and groomed for the day. What a neat way to witness Jesus in my life by having people come to me instead of going to them. Thank you very much!

Many Rainbows In Christ,

Kate said...

Ooh. This is a hard one for me. I'm right now at the point where I'm not that comfortable sharing my growing faith and the increasing recognition of God's constant presence in my life. It's difficult even for me to talk about with my husband, who is not very receptive to the changes in my faith, or forward religious emails to people whose views I'm not sure of.

On the other hand, I have talked more about God, Jesus, the Bible, and religion lately than ever before in my life since this process began. Thank you for encouraging me to stretch further.

alichia said...

I did get access to a computer while on vacation, after all.
This challenge is more difficult for me, as I am quite shy. I will pray for God's power to work thru me.

gallerhea said...

I love that God gently got me out of bed before the kids today, ON A SATURDAY! It was a blessing to have that quiet time, not to do a formulary prayer, bible reading session, etc...but instead to bask in the presence of God, and not be so rigid about how that all "works."

As for the challenge of sharing my faith, I can see how each day's challenge has worked into the next one. As I find quiet time with Jesus, study the Word, spend time in prayer, actively forgive others and myself, and banish negativity--(harder than it sounds, when sarcasm is such an automatic weapon in my life sometimes)--I will have a heart that is prepared to share the wonderful news of God's Grace to the hurting and dying around me.

This could be through a hug and a word of encouragement, an email, a letter, even a meal, shared with someone. My prayer is that God will give me creative ways to connect with people--and help these people connect with Jesus!

:) gallerhea

Joy in The Truth (Sharon Sloan) said...

Hi, Tracie!

Thanks for really encouraging us and challenging us!

This is such a blessing!

More later...have been at a beautiful wedding all day. :)


Laurie Ann said...

What a great challenge! Thanks for spurring us on.

Bridget said...

This was an awesome challenge and one I hope to keep reminding myself of. Unfortunately, I was inside at my house all day on Saturday. So I asked God to help me be like Him with my kids and my husband. We had a great day and then had dinner with some elderly relatives. My kids are small, but they were so good and well-behaved. My aunt is in the very late stages of Alzheimers, so my uncle needed the diversion. It was great to have some lighter conversations and to just serve them. Hopefully being Jesus to them-all four of us!

Mari said...

Well, I did not do so well with this one. I really did not go out much on Saturday. I went to the beauty shop at 6 AM so the two beauties and I could get dolled up (they start school Monday). I made one trip later to shop for shoes for my oldest beauty since younger beauty was off with a friend. I did not verbally give a testimony to the beautician, the receptionist at the salon or the clerk at the shoe store. However I was pleasant and nice to them. For me that fell short. I wish I had slipped them a verse or asked if I could pray for them or told them "God Bless you" or something that let them know that God was real to me. So perhaps I can do that going forward. I at least was aware of my attitude. I certainly did not want to be acting like a friend of the enemy. So in that respect I guess I did okay.

Heather Conrad said...

I too struggle with this - love the "knocking on hearts" comment, this is ALL Jesus to me. For me, the Lord has opened an amazing door for something I've been praying for, for quite awhile, and that is my neighbors. Funny that the "door" he is using is our "For Sale" sign in the front yard. The Lord is asking our family to move (to Charlotte actually) and when they ask, my heart just pours out as naturally as breathing. (I even needed to yell loudly through the fence at the local pool for one neighbor). After the "where to" question, it's the "why" question.
You just never know how the Lord may use you, he's just looking for a willing heart. By the way, my favorite place to "watch" for someone to bless is the grocery store. Today, it was a mom with 2 young children. She thought I would speak words of judgment to her, she actually cried over words of encouragement instead.

Joyful said...

Well, this is where the rubber hits the road, as the saying goes.

OK...I've read the prayer you wrote, and I'm going back to really pray it from my heart. I don't want it to be just words on a page, but the longing of my heart.

I work in a Christian bookstore and I'll be there all day...but God can make anyone wander in - especially 3 people who need to hear a word from God, a word of encouragement or a reminder that God loves them. I pray God will convict my heart about who to minister to and then give me the words and wisdom. It could even be another Christian who is struggling and doubting...I know I've been there. Thanks again for this challenge. I hope to report back later. Wouldn't it be wonderful if God brought even more than 3!!!! (I can't believe I just wrote that, as 3 seems like a lot to this shy gal!)

Have a great day!
With anticipation,