Can I Get a Witness?

https://pattyschell.com/2017/11/08/can-i-get-a-witness/
“I can’t do that.”

This statement is one often heard when people are called upon to share their testimony with others, followed by, “Evangelism is not my gifting. Someone else would be much better at it. I wouldn’t know what to say. Just let me serve behind the scenes.”

They talk themselves out of it with thoughts of what could I say that could possibly attract my friend who needs Jesus? And what if I mess it up? Fear of failure creeps in, clamping their mouth shut, waiting for a better moment. And all-the-while, they secretly pray for someone else ‘more qualified’ to step in.

It may be the word testify that causes people to tremble. It feels so very formal, but in reality, it’s just speaking from your personal knowledge. It is your story to tell, your life experience to share. If you have encountered Jesus and He has changed your life, that is Good News, something worth telling everybody.

But still, how do you organize your thoughts. I’m going to suggest that it can be as easy as ABC.

At the church I attend, the weekend service always includes an invitation to say the ABCs. Admit you are a sinner, believe that Jesus paid the penalty for your sins, and choose to following Jesus. It’s a great outline that can also be used to break down your testimony . . . er . . . I mean, your story of how God changed your life.

Let me show you.

Admit

What brought you to the point of admitting you needed Jesus?

For me, it was a constant parade of people marching through my life making it easy for me to hear the good news and respond to it. I was a little girl who by the good graces of others went to church. My parents didn’t attend, but my siblings and I were often invited to join friends or relatives at their weekend services. It was on one of those times I met my husband, Paul. He was an all-around good guy and his influence in my life made me want to know Jesus.

Eventually, I decided to ask Jesus into my heart. Acknowledging that I had rejected God was an important part. I had always thought I was rejected because of my sin when that wasn’t the case at all. Jesus was waiting for me to realize He had a plan all worked out, one that brought forgiveness and restoration and the assurance that I was accepted. My part was to place my life into His hands.

Believe

How did you give your life to Jesus?

Belief for me was easy in thought but much harder in action. I had to grow into it. I switched alliances from myself to God and back again over and over. I wanted control. I would fail on my own and turn to God. He would put me on the right track. Each time, my rebellion was shorter. It seemed I was catching on to the idea that God’s plan was best when it came to how to live life. Over time, I got to know how faithful God is. No scolding or shame ever came from Him, only love, as He gently taught and corrected me in His ways. It was a process, but I now know Jesus has always had the very best in mind for me.

Choose

What has changed since you have chosen to follow Jesus?

‘Choose to follow’ is the ongoing story of Jesus in my life. It is one that will play on into eternity. Significant change had to happen on my end including: getting acquainted with God through His word, learning to listen to the Holy Spirit, and accepting the call to follow Jesus wherever He leads. What does that look like in my everyday activities?

A better me.

Everything I do is focused on loving God and striving to live life according to His standards. Not only do I benefit when I choose this way of life, so do those around me. Walking with Jesus changes how I see things, how I respond to tough situations, how I speak, and how I love. I want to do things His way. My hope is that the world around me will be changed for the good as I follow Him.

So, here’s the thing. The good news about God’s faithfulness to everyone cannot get out there unless we speak up through our words and actions. How else will they know if we don’t tell them? Whose life will your story of God’s faithfulness change? What person will meet Jesus because you invited them to come along to church? You won’t know until you try. It’s worth the risk. I’m living proof. My life was changed through many people being faithful to their calling.

Put your story of faith to work.

The ABCs—admit, believe, choose—is a good place to start.

Write it down.

And . . .

be ready to change the world.

 

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?

And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?

And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?

As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Romans 10:14-15

Tiny Beginnings

http://wp.me/p2mn4o-GR

“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

Matthew 13:33

My kitchen has the lovely smell of bread rising.

Flour mixed with yeast gives off the beautiful aroma of the anticipation of something wonderful to come. I can remember my mother’s kitchen smelling the same on days she was baking what we called Light Rolls. They were going to accompany a big pot of white beans and ham that had its own wonderfulness. Without that warm roll with butter melting into the surface of the steamy bread, the beans by themselves would not have been the same.

Oh, man. . .

Before drooling takes over, I want to look at the verse that started this line of thought.

Although most of us equate leavening with sin and its ever-increasing desire to take over, here Jesus uses the concept in a different way. This particular teaching on the kingdom of heaven is a one-liner, found tucked amongst the stories about planting of seeds and finding of treasure. [See Matthew 13] The leavening found in this portion of scripture is intended to give the idea of how a very small thing can make big changes.

The kind of leavening Jesus is referring to is what we know as sour dough. No packets of yeast could be found at the grocery store for his listeners. They were able to picture the concept because virtually every household would make bread in the same way. The starter, as bakers refer to it today, was a little piece of dough reserved from the batch before it. That piece was full of yeast that was alive, and once it was mixed into flour and water, it would also bring life to them.

I love this little bit of scripture and how it points to small beginnings that, at first, cannot be seen from the outside. The woman hides the bit of dough into the flour. This is somewhat like hiding God’s living Word in our hearts. I know in my own case, it started small. A verse here and there, but it grew. The more I incorporated God’s word into my heart, the more I wanted to know. The more I knew, the more I had to share with those around me. It grew and grew, taking over and changing my thoughts and actions.

Now, take the individuals who have infused God’s words into their lives and have grown in the ways of kingdom life, and mix them in a world that is dead. Life will begin to take hold as the effects of God’s Word spreads. The process will generate change, bringing God’s kingdom to our families, our neighborhoods, and our communities.

God’s little bit of leaven hidden in our lives can produce some really great results.

The scent of goodness and life that comes as it grows will alert everyone around us that something wonderful is happening—the kingdom of heaven spreading into all the earth.

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.”

2 Corinthians 2:14-16


A recipe is certainly in order for this post. This one makes a delicious loaf. If you would like to start your own sour dough, save a pinch of unbaked dough in a lidded container for your next batch. When ready to use it, incorporate it into the dough with the water and an additional 1/4 teaspoon instant dry yeast.

Over time, your sour dough will get more sour as the starter develops. This method has worked for me when baking a couple times a week. If you don’t bake that often, just start fresh each time, or check the internet for more info keeping sour dough starter. This method has worked for me when baking a couple times a week. If you don’t bake that often, start fresh each time, or check the internet for more info for keeping sour dough starter.

No-Knead Artisan Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add  water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Add a splash of water if needed for right consistency. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
  3. Gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Place a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) that has been lightly oiled or lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap or towel, and let rise for 2 hours.
  4. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Place lid on pot, bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove lid and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until bread in golden.
  7. Cool on wire rack.
  8. Eat with plenty of butter. Yum!
  9. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Are You All In? Trusting God Completely

girlonadventure.com

It was a long night spent sitting in cramped quarters. What was I thinking? About half way in, I began to think my traveling days were over. I reached my limit of “discomfort by choice.” And then there was a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. The Hours to Arrival ticked down and anticipation of reaching my destination began to build.  You see, I got on this plane because I believed it would transport me to the place I wanted to go and even in the midst of exhaustion brought on by a long flight, a sleepless night and thoughts of “Are we there yet?” I never lost faith that I would eventually find my way to the Arrival Gate.

What is your definition of faith? Webster’s defines faith as:

a firm belief in something for which there is no proof

COMPLETE TRUST

something that is believed with a strong conviction.

It is something believed but not only that. Webster uses words in this definition such as firm, complete, strong when it comes to that belief.

In air travel you cannot “sort of” get on the plane. One foot on land with the other in the air is just not going to work. You have to get completely on the aircraft to reach your destination. That is also the way with faith. You have to be ‘all in’ to get where arrive at the place God is taking you.

There is, however, an element of faith that is also a continuous journey. When flying, there are always a few fellow passengers wrought with anxiety. They believe with certainty that this time may just be the time they will crash and burn. They pace the aisles or pop a sleeping pill just to get through. This may not be too far from the truth in how we treat our own lives. We get up each morning and tentatively set our feet in route to see if God’s promises still apply to today’s set of problems and worries. We struggle with the pain and discomfort as we wonder if this part of this trip through life will ever end. And then, as promised we see the glimmer of hope that God is indeed delivering us safely to our appointed destination.

I think that destination just might be a complete faith; one that firmly, completely and with strong conviction puts our confidence in God’s word and his ways. I believe God is developing in us a habit in which we trust him on everything. He proves Himself over and over that there is nothing outside his power to bring the best possible outcome in us. As we go, we develop more and more assurance in Him with a confidence that He will do He says he can do. Each day that we plant our both feet firmly in that confidence brings us closer to arriving at Complete Faith.

In Romans 4:18-23, Abraham is described with the words “against all hope…he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised.”

It goes on to say, “This is why ‘it was credited to him righteousness.”  These words ‘it was credited to him righteousness’ were not written for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him…” [Emphasis added.]

Righteousness. Now, that’s a pretty great perk. Let your faith grow. Be “all in” when it comes to trusting the Lord. You do not want to miss out on what God has for you.

As for me and future travel? I will continue. Living would not be as satisfying if not for the lessons God teaches through the sights and sounds of this great excursion called life.

 The Lord will indeed give what is good…” Psalms 85:12

You count on it!

 

On a Mission: Not Your Typical Teenage Dream

I’m happy to announce a new feature on my blog. On a Mission will feature women who have taken on Jesus’ command to reach out to their communities and into the world beyond to love others. I hope that you find the stories encouraging as you get to know these extraordinary Girls on Adventure.


I would like to meet Madison Lamb in this very inspiring post by Beckie Lindsey.

 

Not Your Typical Teenage Dream

Madison Lamb

What were you interested in when you were sixteen-years-old?

Friends? Clothes? Music? Sports?

Madison Lamb enjoys many of the typical things most teenage girls do. She likes hanging out with friends and drinking coffee. But Madison has also found a love for something that is not so typical for a young woman of her age. She desires to go into full-time ministry serving as a missionary.

It all started when Madison was in eighth grade—except she didn’t actually know it then.

She signed up for her first mission trip.

Her first mission: a six-day trip to Mexico. Madison and a group of other kids her age along with several adults helped construct walls and roofs for houses. On the fourth day of the trip, her group visited an orphanage where many children had been taken to live by their own parents because they lacked the means to care for them. However, a heartbreaking fact Madison learned, was that some of the parents still came and visited their children in the orphanage, but leave them in hopes for a better life than they could provide.

“I’ll always remember the sweet little girl named Bethlehem that stole my heart,” Madison said. “After the orphanage, we visited the dump where many locals go to scavenge. We took hot dogs wrapped in tortillas to share. It was life-changing to see how these people live.”

orphans-411949_1920Dump

Each night Madison’s group listened to powerful missionary speakers from all over the world. One guest speaker named Brad had served as a missionary in Papua New Guinea. He stayed long enough to learn the language and translate the Bible for the locals.

“I learned so much. It was amazing, but I still wasn’t really sure if it was something I wanted to do. So, I didn’t tell anyone, but I was thinking and praying about it. I wasn’t ready to be accountable, I guess.”

The Lord was using the experience from this trip to plant a seed.

A year later when Madison was in high school, she was asked to go on another mission trip, but this time as a teen mentor for the junior high students. Madison agreed and the Lord was busy planting more seeds.

“I got to give a twenty-minute speech to the students about my mission experience. I didn’t realize how much they would look up to me.”

When Madison got back from her second mission’s trip, her heart was completely changed.

“I need to do missions! This is what God wants for my life!”

The future plan is to go to college—hopefully a Christian University with study abroad possibilities and major in Literature and Christian studies. She is also researching missionary training schools and looking into teaching English.

While Madison is still in high school, she intends to explore more missions and reach out to other teens. She says a major concern for teens is a lack of confidence and poor self-image.

“Unfortunately they are looking for attention in the wrong places. Society tells them so many things that conflict with God’s message,” she said. “I used to struggle with body image like a lot of teens my age. But then I read and understood that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God, the creator, loves me and made me beautiful. I want others to know this too!” (Psalm 139)

Everyone needs to know they are loved by God.

Madison believes that if teens understood more about God and the Bible, they would be better equipped to handle the many pressures they face today. “When I put God first, my whole life changed. I love my Bible! I write verses on my hand to help me through the day. Others can see it too.”

Madison has some special people in her life. She says most of her close friends are Christians which helps her. There are also adults that have helped her relationship with God grow as well. “My parents are great! I have met many leaders at church too. My small group leader, Emma, taught me how to pray. I can call her and she’ll meet up with me for coffee. It’s so great to have her support.”

At the age of sixteen, Madison has learned some fundamentals and essentials that every Christian can benefit from, no matter their age.

  • Read your Bible and share it with others.
  • Memorize scripture. It helps keep you on track.
  • Prayer is powerful. Do it every single day.
  • Find your value in God, not society or anything else.
  • Surround yourself with other Christians.
  • Find a mentor.
  • Be a mentor.
  • Look to God to find your purpose.

Thanks for the inspiration, Madison!

Madison Lamb

COMMENTS AND PRAYERS WELCOME!

What do you think about Madison’s dream? Did it inspire you?


Beckie headshot

Beckie is a wife and a mother of three grown children and two adorable cats. She is an award-winning poet, published freelance writer of magazine, website and newspaper articles as well as devotions and studies. She is the editor of Southern California Voice, a division of One Christian Voice, LLC., a national news syndicating agency. Her desire is to see others not only know the truths of the Word of God, but to also experience them personally and practically in everyday life.

To learn more about Beckie:

Blog: https://beckielindsey16.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindseyBeckie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beckie.lindsey.5

Southern California Voice: http://socal-voice.com/

When God Became Real

girlonadventure.com 

Now, the Word became flesh and took up residence among us.

John 1:14a

When I was a young woman, I walked away from the church. Maybe it was just the religious part of church I left behind. I just didn’t fit in. Where there should have been acceptance, I received rejection. Where I should have found encouragement, I found a bar set so high it was not only above my reach, it was far out of my sight. It was such a pity because I believed in God, yet I was left thinking Him too far away.

As you can imagine, life beyond the influence of regular input from God’s Word was precarious at best. I dabbled in risky behaviors of drugs, alcohol and sex. With the world as my guide, these things were not taboo. They were accepted—embraced even. Each step I took in the world’s direction distanced me a little farther from God. At least that’s what I thought.

A day did come when I wanted God back in my life. There seemed to be a very quiet whispering in my soul that I hadn’t heard in a while. In hindsight, I know it was actually His voice I was hearing. I had just forgotten what He sounded like.

During that time, I found myself at a women’s retreat. I don’t remember many of the speaker’s words, but something she said ignited a desire within me to know the God who became man and dwelt among us. She was of Jewish heritage, so she knew what it was like to believe in God without actually knowing Him. It was the knowing part I was intrigued with. At some point she shared that meeting Him would involve a simple turning in His direction.

I remember the moment that I changed course so clearly. It was as if I was coming out of a cloud. As I turned, Jesus came into my full view. His presence took on form in my mind’s eye. I can’t really explain it all without sounding too far-fetched, but I could picture Him. I have to admit, He looked a lot like the Sunday school room picture I saw when I was a kid—beard, robes, sash and all. Regardless of the image I saw, it was the look of acceptance on His face that touched my heart the most. There I stood, covered with the marks of worldliness in His full view, and all I could see was love in his eyes. That’s it. He loved me just as I was at the moment.

What happened next was extraordinary. It was as though He reached up and grabbed that bar that had been placed so high above my ability to achieve. He brought it down to a manageable level, took my hand and guided me across it. All I had to do was turn my eyes toward Him.

Religion gave way to relationship. Jesus moved into my life in a very tangible way bringing with Him a standard of living that elevated me. Acceptance and guidance brought a confidence that I had not experienced before. I cannot stress enough how my life is different. If you have never considered welcoming Jesus into your life perhaps you should give it some thought. There is nothing that isn’t made better by His presence.

We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth,

who came from the Father.

John 1:14b

 

Packing Light and Still Smelling Sweet

As you know, I love to travel. This year I will be staying domestic. Some of my friends, however, are off to Israel and I have to say I’m a bit envious. I love the planning and anticipation of a trip abroad. My friends have also had lots of fun discussing the details but they are now at the packing stage. One by one the items required for the trip will need to find their way into a suitcase. They are probably finding there is much debate about how much is necessary to make this the trip successful.  Traveling light is always a good option, but for some this will be a daunting task. How much clothing is needed to get by and still smell good is usually a huge concern among traveling companions. (And for good reason. Close quarters on a tour bus come to mind.)

travel-671425_1280And then there is—

  • What size suitcase?
  • How much weight can we get away with?
  • What are the right adapters for hair driers and electronics?
  • What are TSA regulations on liquids?
  • What will the weather be?
  • Do I need to bring a coat or will a sweater do?

Lots to consider. So for past trips, I have looked to the experience of an expert traveler to help me navigate the process. Rick Steves, author of Europe Through the Back Door, teaches people how to experience travel to its fullest, and he says that a measure of a good traveler is how light he or she travels. In his book he states, “After you enjoy the sweet mobility and freedom, you’ll never go any other way.”

He breaks down what is necessary for travel, as he urges his readers to bring only the essentials. For instance, when considering what to wear, don’t pack anything you won’t use multiple times on the trip and include only items that can build on each other to create your wardrobe. Keep it simple.

Good advice. Travel is supposed to move us to a new level of understanding of the world around us by bringing new insight and perspective on life. By keeping it simple and bringing only the essentials, it frees up our attention and energy to engage in the journey.

Life in general has a similar plan. After all, it too is a journey, so we need to be careful not to restrict our movements by being burdened down by the non-essentials. In 2 Peter 1 there is actually a packing list that can be applied to our ‘spiritual suitcase’ so that we can get the most out of traveling with God—

“His [God’s] divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”  2 Peter 1:4-7

This step-by-step guide revealed in this portion of Scripture teaches us how to pack for a successful trek through life. God has kept it simple. Each idea builds on the last as we move through the list. And if these things, the first being faith, make it into the ‘suitcase’  . . .they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . 2 Peter 1:8

Packing the ‘travel’ essentials makes us more effective, productive, selfless, and balanced. To top it all off, when we practice these things our vision increases allowing us to experience much more. [2 Peter 1:9]

So when you hit the road of life remember to pack just the essentials.  It will leave your head, hands and heart free to embrace the adventure. You will not want to miss a thing God has planned on your itinerary. And don’t worry. God’s packing plan will leave you smelling sweet as well.

“Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord,

and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit.

All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.”

Colossians 2:10 New Living Translation