When it comes to Christian apologetics, my logical side can really take over. The sheer number of facts supporting the Bible is so astounding to me that sometimes I neglect to impart the other side of the coin – experience. Revelation 12:11 tells us that the end times saints (followers of Christ) will overcome the enemy, the accuser of the brethren, “…by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” Very often, it is our testimonies of God’s faithfulness, of His working in our lives, answering our prayers, protecting us through trials and performing miracles on our behalf that can take someone from teetering on the edge of faith in Christ and propel them into His arms. I was recently reminded of this during a Sunday morning church service.
A couple of nights before, I was laying in bed struggling with some fear and anxiety that was preventing me from falling asleep. I prayed for deliverance, for God to help me to fully trust Him and prayed some scriptures over myself and my family. Eventually I fell asleep, but it was a restless night and I found myself awakened a couple of hours later. My husband woke up and we talked and prayed together and I felt quite a bit better the next day. Then, on Sunday morning, after praise and worship, our pastor came up to pray and started praying against fear and speaking one of the scriptures that I had prayed over myself that night. It may not sound like a lot, but it was so stunning to me that I had to check with my husband to make sure he hadn’t spoken with anyone from the church or asked for prayer for me. He had not. I sat there in church just so in awe of how much our Heavenly Father cares for each of us – how much He cared for me – that He would take the time to answer my specific prayers and comfort me in that way. Even the message that day, delivered by a guest speaker, spoke directly to my situation. God brought such peace to me that day that I am still amazed by it.
Over the last several weeks, I have been meditating on the many things God has done in my life that have shown me that He is who He says He is. While I have had what I feel is far more than my share of trials, I have also seen God work in some pretty amazing ways, some of which I would like to share with you.
One day in the first grade, I passed out in class. I can still remember coming back to consciousness and being very confused about what had happened. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there and I passed out many more times over the next couple of years. My parents tried many things, from following the advice of a Christian chiropractor who suggested getting me off of sugar to checking me into the hospital for testing. The EEG as a little girl was a little scary, but the cards and gifts I got from friends and family made up for it. They were never (to my knowledge) able to figure out what was going on. Over the next couple of years, I had frequent dizzy spells and passed out a couple of more times. Then, my dad gave me a notepad that his Christian boss had given him with Philippians 4:13 printed at the bottom of each page. He told me to pray that scripture – I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength – whenever I started feeling like I might pass out. I began to do that and God completely healed me.
When my husband (Matt) and I were dating in high school, I had gone up to Colorado Springs with him for a track meet. He was taking me home and we were using the time to study for a Bible college class we were taking together. We were traveling down a dirt road and hit some loose gravel on a curve and rolled his old 1980’s Plymouth. This was before everyone had cell phones and we were miles away from anything, but apart from being pretty shaken up, a scratch on his nose and some soreness in my wrist from bracing myself, we were perfectly fine. There is no doubt in my mind that He performed a miracle for us that day and that what the enemy meant for harm, God turned into a testimony. He certainly had His hand on us that day!
Years later, I was 6 months pregnant and involved in another car accident. Matt and I were youth pastors at my dad’s church at the time. I was at the church with our 2 year old (our oldest was playing at my parents’ house) preparing for youth group while Matt was still at work. As I was getting ready to head out to Pueblo West to pick up my little brother and his friend, my 2 brothers-in-law noticed something about my car that they thought they should look at. They suggested that I take my sister’s little Toyota Echo and leave my car there with them. I agreed and loaded Bethany’s car seat into my sister’s car and drove away. Fifteen minutes later, while waiting to turn left onto my parents’ street, I was rear-ended by a truck going 45-55 mph who didn’t see me before he reached down to pick something up off the floor. As you can imagine, the car was completely smashed, with the trunk pushed up to the front seat. It was nothing short of a miracle that both of my daughters (our unborn child as well as my 2 year old in the back seat) and I all came out unscathed. I had pain in my neck and back for awhile, but even that was healed after a local pastor at a multi-church event prayed for me.
These are 3 of the most significant events in my life where I saw God’s hand, but there have been many more, some just as miraculous, but too personal to write about here. This world is fallen and, until Jesus returns, will be a tumultuous place where we will face trials and heartache. However, when we belong to God, we will also see Him intervene mightily on our behalf throughout our lives.
God made us all different and while some, like me, will lean more on the evidence when telling people about Christ, others will lean more on their experience. The reality, however, is that we need both. With only our experiences, some will respond with doubts based on what they view as a lack of evidence and chalk our experience up to mere coincidence. However, if we rely on just the evidence, others will not see the real and present and loving Father that we know our God to be. Evidence combined with experience is the most powerful way that we can overcome the enemy and bring souls into God’s Kingdom. So, don’t neglect your story – it is God’s gift to you and He can use it to make a difference in the lives of others.
Acts 8:1&4 “…And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word.”
Great persecution scattered Christians out of Jerusalem, and wherever they settled, they began to witness of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Verse one tells us that these were not the apostles, but were “you and me” type Christians – those who heard the Gospel, gave their hearts and lives to the Lord, and told others about Him. Wherever they ran into someone, they talked about their Savior and Lord.
Albert Barnes stated that “It should be the great object of all Christians to make the Savior known. By our lives, conversation, and entreaties, we should speak to dying sinners that they be reconciled to God.”
How many of us carry photos of our spouse, children, grandchildren, and pets with us? How difficult is it to draw a conversation around to our spouse, kids, grandkids, or pets? Not hard at all! It’s easy! Love makes it easy. Right?
And because we love the Lord, and have a God-given responsibility to spread the Gospel, it shouldn’t be hard to go about sharing Jesus. We just have to open the door. Just sow a seed….
So how do we go about it? Let’s look at some examples in Scripture.
- Jesus, at the well, said to the Samaritan woman, “Give me a drink.” Then He proceeded to tell her that He was Messiah.
- Philip said to the Ethiopian, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” And starting right there in Isaiah, the Old Testament, he proclaimed Jesus as Savior.
- Paul, in Athens, said, “That ‘Unknown God’ you have an altar for, I know Him and can tell you about Him!”
Each witness started where his audience was and went from there to the heart of the Gospel. You and I can do that, too. Where do we go during our day that we have opportunity to speak to someone of Jesus?
Walmart is a great place to strike up conversations.
- Buying dog food? Ask the person in the aisle with you what kind of pet they have. Great door opener. Don’t leave before asking if they know Jesus.
- Picking up a prescription? Strike up a conversation with the person in line behind you. Illness often opens people to your expressions of sympathy and kindness. Promise to pray for the person. Tell them that Jesus heals. Ask if they have a relationship with Him.
- Express gratitude to the soldier in uniform for service to our country. Ask if he loves the Lord.
- Does the woman in line ahead of you have a child in the cart seat? Start your conversation there. Let her know your church has a great children’s program and you’d be happy to see them there. Jesus loves children; the Bible tells us so! Find out if she knows that personally.
- Is the clerk wearing an engagement ring? Extend your good wishes and hope that they will be as happy as you and your spouse are. And let her know that Jesus is at the Center of your marriage and He wants to be the Center of hers, too.
When you’re in the doctor’s office, offer Jesus as the One on Whom we cast our cares for He cares for us. He’s the Friend you can tell your troubles to. Tell how prayer really works.
When you’re waiting for your car to be serviced at Grease Monkey, and someone comments about the nice day, agree, and give God the glory. It opens the door to ask about their walk with Him.
When you see a fish emblem on a car, ask about their relationship with the Lord. If they’re not attending church right now, invite them to yours!
At the park with your kids? Talk to them about their little ones, and find out if they need Jesus.
You can’t beat a hospital waiting room for reaching out with the comfort of Jesus to those who are concerned about a loved one or in trouble themselves.
All these approaches can work; I’ll vouch for that. And love makes the conversations easy. I can vouch for that, too. We love Jesus, and we love people. Hey! This works! Find out what works for you. Be gentle and be wise. And share the Love of your life with someone who needs to hear the good news of your Savior.
Don’t be afraid of fielding a question you don’t know how to answer. A fail-safe fall-back in this situation is to hand the person the church’s card. “Call my pastor. He’ll know how to answer your question. And he cares.” Make sure the service schedules are on the card. And point them out. With an invitation to attend.
As you prepare to run errands or keep an appointment, pray the Lord will open an opportunity for you to speak to someone about Him. And then wade in at every opening. If it goes no further than general conversation in which you speak of the Lord, you’ve done well. We never know how God will use our friendly smile, kind words, our mention of Him, or our church invitation and card for the good of a soul.
Albert Barnes put it like this: “Straightforward, humble Christian conversation is far more acceptable to strangers than we commonly suppose. Alone, approached kindly, most are willing to talk to you.”
Max Lucado said, “Never underestimate the power of a seed.”
It’s a joy to speak of Jesus with someone who knows Him. It is unspeakable joy to speak of Jesus to someone who doesn’t know Him and could come to a saving knowledge in Him because God used you as a vessel to work through. Eternity does not “await”: Eternity starts with the first breath God breathes into our lungs. What a privilege we have to change someone’s eternity! And more than a privilege – we are under orders: “Go, therefore,” and affect eternity for those within our reach. Head out with purpose.
Matthew Henry wrote, “Of those of whom we know nothing else, we know this – that they have souls.” Never-dying souls bound for eternity somewhere. May God use you and me to bring them to Him as we go about telling the good news right where we find people who need to hear.