Afraid to Answer

How sticking to your story overcomes the fear of sharing your faith

“We cannot stop talking about what we have seen and heard.” – Acts 4:20

One of the chief reasons believers don’t share our faith is we are afraid people will ask questions we can’t answer.

Here is the bad news: they will.

Now, here is the good news: we aren’t called to answer every question or meet every objection. We are called (sent) to simply tell our stories. Just tell them about who you know Jesus to be and what He has done for you. Your witness will have more impact than you know.

What if they ask a question you don’t have an answer to?
Remember that most questions have been asked before. There is an answer somewhere. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know. Let me check.” Go find a reliable source to help you with the answer. And then, get back with them.

What if they object to the answer?
Most objections aren’t objections at all; they are excuses. People realize that if they make Jesus Lord of their lives, they will have to change certain behaviors, and people don’t want to change. So, they end up playing intellectual games with the gospel. We will never be able to overcome objections of the will disguised as intellectual arguments.

You don’t have to know how to win arguments. You do need to know how tell your story.

You do have a story, don’t you?

How would you tell it?

To whom do you need to tell it?

On the Move with God

One of the surprising things we learn about God in the Bible is that He is a God who moves around.

– He comes to dinner with Abraham.
– He tells Moses He has seen the suffering of His people in Egypt and has “come down” to rescue them.
– He leads the children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land, appearing as a pillar of fire at night and a cloud during the day.

Always moving. This was a very different God indeed from the gods of the pagans around Moses and his people. This was a God who did not live in houses made by humans, nor could He be captured in any type of art.

Jesus was like that as well. When Peter told Him that everyone was waiting on Him, Jesus told Peter He had to go to other cities and preach there as well. As you study the life of Jesus, you quickly begin to understand that Jesus doesn’t stay in one place too long. And neither do His followers. Look at the life of Paul. In the back of any Bible is a map of Paul’s missionary journeys. Look at the lines from Jerusalem to Rome. And then remember he covered most of this ground by walking.

Christians have long understood their relationship with Christ as a journey—of going from where they are to the place they are called to be; from the person they are to the person Christ is molding them to become. He never leaves us in one place for very long.

We, like Jesus, are always moving, always learning, always letting go—always changing. Usually we are between two places— the place of having to let something of our old selves go and the place of adding something from Christ into our lives. You may be letting go of anger and replacing it with patience; letting go of bitterness and replacing it with joy. This journey is never done.

I don’t guess we should be surprised. After all, Jesus called us to come follow, not to come and sit.

So how about you? Where are you on your journey? What are you letting go of? What are you adding in?

You Are Here. Why?

Dr. Rebekah Naylor is a somewhat of a hero among those familiar with Southern Baptist missions.

She was a gifted surgeon who served in India for 35 years. Because of her work, she became known as the “Mother Theresa of Bangalore.” She oversaw the construction of hospitals, led regional health education programs, and trained other surgeons. She also started a choir in the hospital, led chapels and Bible studies, as well as designing an evangelism program to reach India through the ministry of the hospital.

So, which was she—a surgeon or a missionary? Both.

Because she was a gifted surgeon making an obvious sacrifice to serve in India, she was given access to opportunities not open to others. Because she was a missionary, she saw her purpose beyond the daily routines of surgery and patient care. She was part of God’s plan to reach India.

To understand Dr. Naylor, you have to understand both facets of her.

Here’s my point: All of us are missionaries, though we may do something else professionally. Dr. Naylor was a surgeon who did missionary work. Now, you and I find ourselves in a North American culture that is less and less responsive to the gospel. Whatever research you may want to read, you will find that professing Christians are making up an increasingly smaller part of the American population. Some experts are now saying that North America, home of more churches than anywhere else in the world, is the great mission field of the world. Indeed, Brazil and some African nations are sending missionaries to the United States.

What if you were to see yourself in your professional role as what you are—and a missionary?

What if you understood you were an accountant and a missionary? A lawyer and a missionary? A nurse, teacher, coach, mechanic, plumber—and a missionary?

What if, like Dr. Naylor, you saw your job, volunteer activities, recreational groups as your “platform?”

A platform is what missionaries call a vocation or skill set that gives them access to reach someone with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

– What if God has gifted you with a skill, a service, a specialized training that gives you access to certain places and people so you can find a way to talk about Jesus?
– What if every Christian in North America began to see themselves as missionaries sent to their communities, schools, gyms, golf courses, tennis courts, running groups, community choirs, political parties?
– What if we understood that Jesus has sent us to the places we are because someone needs to hear His gospel?

Would that change the way you looked at your situation? Would it change the plans you had for your career?

– What platform has God given to you?
– Who is there that you are supposed to reach?

Want to know more about this topic? Watch Mike’s sermon from January 16.

The Sound of Silence

Late yesterday afternoon, I stood quietly in my driveway and looked at the snow-covered beauty around me. The snow covering the hills around me was soft and thick, a blanket that seemed to hold everything perfectly still for the moment.

This is what Isaiah was talking about, I thought, when he wrote, “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18).

So this is what forgiveness looks like, I thought. Covered in brilliant white; thick, as if grace was slathered on to be sure there was enough; heavy, to be sure that what was covered would stay covered.

The longer I stood there, the more deeply I began to notice the silence. There simply was no sound. No cars being driven home. No birds calling or even flapping their wings in the trees. Just silence, hanging in the air as thick and deep as the snow itself.

Then it hit me. If snow is what forgiveness looks like, then this silence is what forgiveness sounds like.

Our thoughts are often noisy with grudges of past wounds and accusations of failures. Our hearts are cluttered with regrets and guilt. But when Jesus speaks forgiveness, there is only stillness. The voices that judge and condemn are silenced. Grudges that bring pain to remembrance are swallowed up in the thick stillness. No guilt can accuse. Forgiveness brings a peace that can only be shown in stillness, like the wind and the sea when Jesus calmed the storm.

So, I stood there in my driveway, looking at the snow and straining my ears to try and hear any noise at all. Nothing. Just more silence.

This is the sound of forgiveness. When Jesus speaks grace, it covers everything in us, just like the snow.