Do me a favor, would you? Please read what Paul had to say to the Jews in Acts 22:3-21. That’s right. Just hover over that Scripture reference, and the text will pop right up. Got it? Good. Thanks. I’ll wait for you. No need to rush. I need to refill my iced tea goblet, anyway.
You’re back? Good. That didn’t take too long. Iced tea is refilled. It’s all good. Ready? Set? Here we go.
Did you notice what I noticed when you read that Acts passage? That Paul was providing not only his defense, but that he was simultaneously telling his testimony? His story? Wow. Pretty simple, really.
We all love stories, don’t we? From the time we sat on our mother’s lap and she read our favorite books to the time we sat mesmerized during our English teacher’s read-aloud time in middle school. We love stories. I even perk up a bit more on Sunday mornings when Pastor Bob tells his personal stories. It’s that human element, right? The fact that we have, in principle, been through similar triumphs and tribulations as others. Stories validate us. Sort of give us moral support.
Well, I’ve been pondering discipleship of late, like Jesus Christ said in Matthew 28:19.
Wait a minute. Hold on. I thought this post was about telling our stories.
It is. Friends, we NEED to be telling our stories. That’s PART of discipleship. How else can we reach those whom God is drawing unto Himself this very moment? We need to tell our own stories of salvation. We truly do. Just like Paul did.
Let me tell you something. I date. Scratch that. I do not date. I meet and greet. That’s it. Merely meet. And greet. It’s what online dating is all about. Meeting and greeting. That means that every date I go on is blind. But something happens before the meet-and-greet, Friend. The prospective man reads my online profile. And I assure you my profile is overtly Christian. Meaning there is no question whatsoever that the woman (me) whose profile the man is reading (mine) is a follower of Jesus Christ (again, me). In my profile, I request to be told the prospective blind date’s story of salvation. And what he is currently reading/studying in the Bible. I do that for two reasons. I genuinely want to know his story. And I need to filter the real Christian men from the men pretending to be Christian.
You see, our authentic stories of salvation are important. Family members, friends, neighbors, colleagues may not wish to hear about our Bible thumping, but they probably wouldn’t mind hearing about what God has done in our lives. I know that, for me, discussing my story of salvation has convicted more than a few men, whether they became my blind dates or not. How do I know that? They tell me. In my profile, I even advise men to read John, Acts, and Romans. I further invite them to talk to me about their reading if they have questions.
Friends, I am nobody special. I am just a person who lives her life. But a person who lives her life for God first. I don’t do it all correctly or righteously. Heck, no. I fall short and fail daily. But I imagine that’s what makes me approachable. My neighbors, friends, and colleagues ask me to pray for them or their families or friends. They ask me questions about the Bible or the Christian life. But what about those who are not approaching me? I need to prepare my story for their ears and hearts. I need to do what I can to promote Jesus Christ. It’s my next step, if you will. (See what I did there? Pastor Bob’s message today was all about us taking that next step, just like Moses, Joshua, David, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel did.)
In taking my next step, I ordered some books about discipleship. I had recently asked Pastor Bob about how to become bold and courageous. About how to be a disciple. He told me of his plans to utilize a book called The Purple Book for Just. This. Purpose. See how God works? He’s in it even before we realize it. Love that.
I have yet to read the books I ordered, but read them I shall. For now, I need practice. Practice telling my story. Paul was eloquent in his speech and writing. Oh, he was a learned man. Raised in the strictest sect of the Pharisees. Sort of a Who’s who among the Jews. But thankfully I don’t have to be a learned woman. Or raised in the church. Or a Who’s who among Christians. I am merely a person who wishes to tell of the joy of salvation and of the hope in the resurrection that knowing Jesus Christ has brought into her life.
Do you mind if we practice on each other? How about we, you and I, write our own stories? Or type them, as it were. You never imagined you’d get homework, having read this post, did you? Nor did I, at the outset. But execute homework, we shall.
I intend to continue this post as a Part Two, and I’d love for you to compose your own story. I’ll ask Pastor Bob to leave the comments section open for your stories. Just type your story in your regular word processing program, then copy and paste it into the comments below. I would LOVE to read YOUR story. I’ll be working on mine for you.
And thank you so much for practicing on me. With your story. For the sake of winning souls to Christ.
Discipleship. You and me. Taking that next step. Together.
July 17, 2016