Saturday, August 15, 2009

Faith Zone Challenge Day #4: Stand Proud

As Christians, the two immediate 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 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 us is the most amazing witness ever. People may not always believe in our Jesus, but they cannot deny seeing Jesus at work in us. That, in itself, is a witness.

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 content focused on simple life/holiday balancing 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 that was included in the curriculum, 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?"

I could feel my face getting hot. Actually I was sweating all over. Thoughts raced through my mind as I considered that my job could be on the line, depending on how I answered that question. But what was truly being impressed upon my heart, was that my faith was on the line. Who would I stand for? Jesus or political correctness? Who would I aim to please? Jesus or a big wig manager sitting in his leather chair?

I knew the politically correct answer. I knew the corporately correct answer. I knew the answer that this organization would expect me to provide on their behalf, to support their politically correct, non-religious,-non-discriminative, overly-tolerant policies of everyones varying beliefs. And I understand why corporations feel pressured to be so neutral. I knew that from a business standpoint, I should straddle the fence, skirt the real issue, 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 Christian beliefs in a non-judgemental way, and explained what I believed Christmas to be all about - based on my God sending His son Jesus to be born in a manger, eventually to die on a cross for me, so that I could be forgiven, enjoy my earthly life by striving for things that would please Him, and spend eternal life with Him when my time here is over.

I also expressed my overwhelming sadness for our societys 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, at work, at the mall, and in their homes.

I reminded them that Christianity is normally the religion that gets pushed to the back burner, while other religions are given much more tolerance. I encouraged them to hang Merry CHRISTmas signs in their cubicles, regardless of the political stigmas. I sensed my rational mind saying "whooooaaaa nelly!", but my words just flowed out from the depths of my heart. It was an opportunity that I had prayed for, and when the time arose, it was as if a dam broke, the flood waters rose, and the nothing could hold the words back!

I received some supportive applause, an Amen or two, a few cold glares, and to my surprise, a few looks of intrigue. Whether or not my words were ever discussed among that group after I left, I will never know. But I do know that I stood up for Christ, and possibly planted a seed that needed to be strown on good soil, to a persons heart who needed to hear or be reminded of the real meaning of Christmas that the world tries so hard to keep secret.

This was a mountaintop experience for me, and I felt really good about it. But unfortunately, there have been other times, when I was not so bold. Times when I felt that the potential consequences of standing up for my faith were too great. Times when I worried about what people would think, and didnt trust God to guide my words and control the outcome. As a result, I hid my light under a bushel, just to fit in.

Today I am certainly much more bold in my faith than I was in the past. I feel much more confident in living out loud for Christ.....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, who when asked if she loved her Jesus, she said yes - at all costs. Cassie didnt lose a job for standing up for her faith, she lost her life. Would I really be willing to do that?

Jesus never intended for sharing His word to be a scary, impossible, sweat-inducing burden. After all, it is a message of love and salvation, but the world has made transparency, especially when it comes to having bold faith, a scary undertaking at times.

God meant for us to be witnesses of Jesus Christ through the natural outcome of living our lives with Him, through Him, and for Him. Sometimes it is easy, other times it is hard. But He presents opportunities to share the good news each day, and I have to wonder, how often are we too preoccupied with life and our own personal inhibitions to grasp those opportunities?

If we want to be bold for Christ, which in the long run causes our faith to grow, here are a few suggestions that might help us take those first little steps towards being a light for Him:

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 easy to understand facts.
4) Build relationships. Once someone believes that you care about them as a person, they are all ears, ready to listen to whatever it is you have to say.
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 ideas, but it might help us jump start the action! Sharing your faith is kind of like riding a bike - once you take off the training wheels, you feel more confident than ever! And remember, our God is something to be proud of.
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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."

Psalm 66:16 Come and listen, all you who fear God;let me tell you what he has done for me

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 ask that you bring 3 people into my path who need to hear a Word from you, who need a pat on the back, a hug or some simply encouragement; or 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 wisdom for this 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, Amen

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

11 comments:

The Seeking Mom said...

Another great post today, Tracie. I enjoyed your testimony about standing up for Christ in Christmas, an important witness. We Christian Americans are blessed to live where we don't face a daily threat to our lives for our faith...but many of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world do. That fact always humbles me when I feel like complaining about my lower-level persecution. And yes, I have been scorned, mocked, laughed at, and ostracized because of my faith--even by members of my own family. Isn't this exactly what Jesus said would happen, if I live my life for him? One thing that I learned from my pastors has helped me. Once I've built a relationship, when I relate my OWN story rather than preaching at someone, it goes over much better. They can't argue with me on my own experience, because I am the expert on that! I think another key is to pray for opportunities, as you suggest, and then silently ask for God's help on the spot when the opportunity arises. Those words you spoke to the group were not of yourself--I'm sure God spoke through you. I'm encouraged to know we don't have to rely on our own strength or intellect to evangelize. God will work in us if we avail ourselves to spreading the Good News.

tam said...

Wow...I'm so thankful for this challenge! Thanks so much Tracie! I'll be "on the look-out" for those three special people that the Lord would have me to minister to on this very day.
tmom21998@aol.com

Danielle said...

When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. (Mark 13:11)

I so need to apply this in my own life. I am a pretty bold person. Will say whatever is on my mind at the time, for the most part. I will share my faith with people, my beliefs, but there are times that I feel so useless because I don't remember the scriptures like I want to, that I fear saying things. But God showed me through Mark that it's not me who should be speaking anyway... it should be The Spirit.

Thanks Tracie! Another great challenge!

Jill said...

Tracie, once again another great post - thank you for sharing a wonderful example with all of us. Standing proud is exactly what He wants us to do and even more so it's all he deserves. It's the biggest thank you we can give. It's also the biggest challenge at times. I can relate to "the seeking Mom" and have been persecuted by even my family, but his word says he will set mother against daughter. Those words are true, but I'm learning it comes down to a simple question, "Who am I living to please?" If the answer is God, we must stand proud for Him as well. Thanks for the challenge this week Tracie, it couldn't be coming at a better time. The lion has been roaring here in Iowa! Blessings, Jill

Angie said...

Well, this challenge is one I do not have any experience in and I got hit square between the eyes from the first sentence. I have not lived a life according to His Word nor have I grown in my knowledge of Him by any stretch of the imagination. If there is such a label as a dead Christian, I have been one.

But all of that has changed this year. I am growing in my knowledge of Him. With every light bulb moment comes joy beyond my belief. Amazed! I have recently described it as being amazed with how God is working in my life now, what He is showing me and the guidance He is giving me through others.

I have never been convicted to stand up for my faith because I really didn't know where I stood. Honestly, there wasn't much standing it was more like trying to stand on sinking sand.

This challenge will be the one that.... seeing how Jesus is working in my life is in itself a witness.

Standing Proud....I think I am learning how!

Mary said...

Tracie,

Thank you for your post today. God has done some amazing things in my family's life over the last 3 years. Many times I have given God the credit for getting us through some very difficult times. It is easy for me to praise him in conversation with friends. I feel God leading me to be a more bold witness for him. I am praying that I will follow his direction for my life. Your challenge has been a big help.

Mary

Beth said...

Tracie, thanks for the encouragement to share faith and follow Christ's example. Sometimes it is tempting to take the 'easy' way, rather than the road less traveled. God is working in my family's life to get us thru a tough situation. Although I don't like having to go thru this, I think about how great it will be to say "Look how God worked thru this......" and be able to give specific examples. I feel His comfort and peace and was able to share today with a friend, how God is working in our lives right now.

Thanks again for your encouragement and the reminder to live in Christ.

Connie said...

I read this post very late last night and felt bad that I didn't have time to do the challenge.
But then the Lord brought back to my mind what I had just done that day. I had been with several people who were not believers...and I had been a kind and loving person to them...I was encouraged that possibly they did see Jesus loving them through me.

One of the women I was with knew me before I was a believer and knows what my life is like now...I pray that the Lord did shine through my life to show all that He has done in me since He became the Lord of my life.

I will continue to look for ways to speak of Him in the days to come!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracie,
For some reason this challenge of day 4 didn't come up for me until today. I checked for it yesterday wasn't posted yet. But I'm still with you gals. This challenge and the encouragement through each and everyone of you is how I wish the whole world could be. Encourageing each of us on.

Yes...I admit I hide myself under a bushel basket more often than not. Something I really need to do is start shining my light for Jesus.

It is just kind of ironic I just got done reading an article of a famous actor who did just that...The title of the article:
'I'm going to say it anyway'...
One of Hollywood's own speaks out against abortion an interview with Gary Graham....He played in prime-time television series, such as M.A.N.T.I.S.,Star Trek; Enterprise, Star Trek; Voyager, Alien Nation and JAG as well as more than 30 movies.

He writes this in part of the article:
Despite his ongoing success in Hollywood, by the late 1980's Gary felt "spiritually bereft and empty and used up. I....really felt I had nowhere to turn. I even had thoughts of ending my life. I haven't told many people this. it was about that time that I was so hungry for something to give me hope, I was watching every Christian show I could find. Since I was raised Christian, I instinctively turned to it."

This article was in a magazine....I noticed at the end of the article if any one else would like to read it they left a email to the website which is
(www.clmagazine.org)....I was just a little hesitant about doing this but the little voice just told me ..."Rhonda you just said you need to stand up for Jesus.

I really enjoy his ending in the article....At any rate, Gary hopes tha his talents, eperience and writing will be instrumental in promoting life-giving values in Hollywood and beyond. ........And he has some advice: Speak your heart always. And this: "We were given a greaat book of instructions called the Bible.....To all the smart, cool, "rock-'n'-rolly,' arrogant young bucks who are going to reinvent the wheel, I would recommend you do it God's way."

I'm sure it took some great faith for a Hollywood actor to say and do this .....leaves us with some Hope in Hollywood.

Great Faith can move mountains...Lord help us to let our lights shine for you. Keep guiding Tracie for shining her light to us.

I will do day 5 tomorrow....I always like to meditate on each day.
God Bless....Rhonda

Tracey said...

I pray that I always stand up for Jesus no matter the cost. I pray that I can live my life bodly for Him. Thank you for reminding me of this.

Joyful said...

Well, just getting caught up reading your blog. We left for holidays August 15th and returned Monday.

What a challenge this post presented!!!! Share your faith with 3 people today! YIKES! Can I be honest? Sharing with one can be difficult. I guess I need to get out more "in the world". So much of my time and activity is with believers. You have definitely challenged my heart today.

Blessings,
Joy