Optimism and resilience in the face of adversity is the greatest long-term predictor of success for individuals and organizations. Most of what people describe as failure in their lives is a function of withholding commitment. Optimists perform better at work, school, and athletics.
Ronald Reagan was an optimist and followed the pessimist Carter. The same could be said of Clinton following Bush. Bush was so morose while Clinton exhibited enthusiasm for the future. Churches with optimists outgive and show more faith than ones full of pessimists.
I definitely lean toward optimism though I have my low moments. It’s much easier to be an optimist as a Christian because we know He loves us in all circumstances and that one day Heaven will be our destination.
In the face of misfortune or bad news pessimists focus on the negative and then take it personally (“It’s all my fault!”), assume it’s permanent (“It will never change!”) and consider its influence pervasive (“It will totally ruin my life!”).
Are you an optimist or pessimist? Why?
In order to share our faith effectively we need to know/do 3 things. Here are the 3 things that need to happen from our viewpoint. Of course, the Holy Spirit is the ultimate “worker” but we need to do our part of spreading the seed. This may need to take place over several meetings, days, months, years, as necessary. For our purposes let’s say we have a friend named “Nathan.”
- Listen to Nathan’s story. Get to know who Nathan is and his understanding of life and faith. Do not go past this step until this has been accomplished!
- Share your story. That is, help Nathan understand who you are and your understanding of life and faith. How has God changed your life? What significant things have happened for you to realize your need for Jesus Christ?
- Tell God’s story. This can happen concurrently with sharing your story but I think it’s best to be transparent first about yourself before going into “how much God loves Nathan.” Best to start with how you know God loves you, then move it to Nathan.
Of course, at some point you may have to explain how they can accept that gift of God’s grace in their life and lead them in that.
What’s the best way to share God’s story succinctly? Good question. For years I’ve used the “Bridge illustration.” I’m finding that almost ineffective to post-modern minds so I’m working on other ways. What have you used to explain God’s story?
If we expect God to do for us what we ask, we should be prepared to do for God what He asks. If we listen to His words of command, God will listen to our words of respect.
Do you want to have confidence when you pray and receive from God what you ask for? Then begin by living a life of obedience.
I give Sun Stand Still: What Happens When You Dare to Ask God for the Impossible by Steven Furtick 4.5 out of 5 stars. (Click the link to see a video trailer of the book).
Furtick writes winsomely and tells some incredible stories God’s faithfulness. His own story is inspiring. Throughout the book we are encouraged to believe God for the impossible and to live lives of “audacious faith.” Examples and stories abound with the story of Joshua as a backdrop. Furtick is at his best in the chapter “When the Sun Goes Down,” which deals with happens when we believe in the impossible and it still doesn’t happen and “The Simplest Systematic Theology Forever,” which I found myself underlining all the way through and inspiring some sermon ideas of my own.
I recommend Sun Stand Still if you need a booster shot of faith.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
Sin hinders prayer. A person may pray and pray without receiving an answer, and then conclude that the problem is God. In reality the problem may be in the person’s heart. See Psalm 66:18-19.
When sin blocks prayer, the real problem is not that we have sinned but that we have not repented. It is only unconfessed sin, cherished in our hearts, that inhibits our prayers. Forgiven sin does not hinder prayer.
Not only does sin hinder prayer; prayer hinders sin. The two are always opposed. The more careless about sin, the less we will pray. The more we pray, the less careless we will be about sin.
Bot sin and prayer are powerful forces. Which one is moving you?
God’s throne, we are reminded in Hebrews 4:16, is a throne of grace, not a throne of judgment. This means that if we come into His presence through the blood of Christ, we are acceptable to Him. God doesn’t scrutinize us to screen out unworthiness. He extends a hand of welcome.
How much confidence do you have when you pray? I have lots but not because I’m self-confident. I’m God-confident because I know He is faithful and wants good for me.
It’s not even funny…and I’m pretty sure Jesus doesn’t hate Obama. I thought he loved everyone.
Here’s today’s set list of music at the Awakening Service at FCC. This will be linked to The Worship Community.com blog where other worship bloggers post their setlists.
Here’s what we did:
Hands of the Healer
My Savior My God
Message: Part Three of Surrender Jonah. Good church people for the most part have surrendered to God’s moral will. But have we surrendered to God’s purposes in the world?
Mighty to Save
King of Glory
Availability means more than being where the action is. Being available is also a state of mind. Christians rub shoulders with non-Christians in their work world all the time but keep their faith a secret. They are mentally isolated. Perhaps you’ve heard it said, “I witness by my actions.” That is crucial, but to never speak about our hope in Christ makes people think that it’s we who are great, not Jesus. Being available involves a mental decision to be open about our faith as opportunities arise. Start by asking yourself, “Do I have a friendship with one person who does not know Christ for whom I can pray?”
Being equipped means using our minds. It means understanding the secular mindset. Study friends. Our ignorance of the secular world around us weakens our credibility to non-Christians. Being equipped means learning by doing. Being equipped involves prayer. Study the Gospels and apologetics. Become a student of our culture too. Learn by doing. Finally, ask God to work in the hearts of those around you.
Availability is moving our feet. Equipping is training our minds. Motivation is changing our hearts. Telling someone to “be motivated” is like telling someone to “be happy.” It usually just makes things worse. Right motivation for evangelism springs from love, truth, and hope–and those are things we can work at building into our lives. When we truly come to know and grasp the love of God, we want to share our faith.
Unlike the Holy Spirit’s job description, ours is relatively simple. First we follow Christ as Lord (see part I); then we proclaim the truth of Christ. It’s our hope that hearers will turn to God in faith, but their response is not our responsibility.
And we certainly don’t need techniques to manipulate others with crafty questions. But what can we do?
- Available- God wants us available to people, not shouting instructions at them. He wants us to get into others’ lives.
- Equipped- God wants us equipped to share the good news. You don’t need to be a trained professional in the business of sharing your faith. But if you share what you know about your relationship with Christ, when the opportunity comes, God will use you. Seminary degree not required.
- Motivated- God wants us motivated in the right way: not by guilt trips or with emotional frenzy, but by love.
Our job description for real-life evangelism is to be equipped, available and motivated. So evaluate yourself. Are you motivated (I have a heartfelt desire to share the good news of Christ)? Are you available (I have social contacts with non-Christians)? Are you equipped (I can effectively explain the message and/or tell my story of faith)? If you dare to do this, give yourself a thumbs up or down on each of these. And then post your results on the blog or email me (email@example.com) and I will gladly diagnose, give you a prognosis, and prescribe treatments for you. Think I’m joking? Try me!