When it’s tough being the Light…

I’ve been reading different posts and tweets about people who are taking the #lightenup challenge and I LOVE it!! God is being glorified as Jesus is lifted up and that’s so very cool.

We need to keep being intentional about bringing Jesus into our conversations but what do you do if you’re too nervous to start talking to someone or if you have no idea how to bring Jesus up? Because sometimes it’s tough being the light…

I was reading in Acts 8 and came across a great word of encouragement for those of us who are hesitant or struggling to continue the #lightenup challenge. It’s the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch and you can read it in Acts 8:26-39 to see what you can apply from it but here is what I learned—hope it helps.

  1. Ask —What if you ask the Lord to make you sensitive to His Spirit so that you are following His lead on a daily basis—in everything that you do? That would make you like Philip—in the right place at the right time. Then listen to His prompting when you come in contact with others.
  1. Listen-Philip listened to God’s prompting and instruction.. He ran up and stayed near the man in the chariot….and get this—he listened.. That’s key. In deciding how to go about lightening up your conversations—start by listening—to what they are saying or by ‘listening’ to their body language or actions. Then you will have a better idea how to jump into talking. Philip heard the man reading aloud something he was familiar with and so he asked a question to get the ball rolling. Good advice for us. We can ask too.

-ask a cashier if she is having a good day

-ask a woman shopping for toys something about her kids or grandkids

-ask someone about her Christmas jewelry or fun outfit

-ask someone in line if she is ready for Christmas

When you pay attention and listen you can find all kinds of ways to connect with perfect strangers. Philip listened for a connecting point and started there—

  1. Go for it- Once you start talking with someone, let the conversation go where they are willing to go. Philip talked with the man about Jesus starting from where he had been reading in Isaiah and kept going. When we encounter someone that the Lord has placed in our path, we never know how He has been preparing them so keep talking Jesus while you can.

Sometimes you will just barely get in a word about Jesus and other times they may want to talk all the way to salvation and accepting Christ. Only the Holy Spirit knows what is in their hearts—our job is be obedient in the opportunities that come our way.

Remember that you are the light of the world and have the privilege of sharing that light with everyone around you. Don’t get frustrated. Stay alert and try these 3 tips from Philip: Ask, Listen & Go for it.

It’s amazing what God can do when we speak up and lift high the name of Jesus—be the light!!!

Lessons from Mark Cuban and Shark Tank…

I love the TV show Shark Tank–it’s so fun to watch and my whole family will sit around and critique the presenters and guess who will make what kind of deal. If you haven’t ever seen it the basic premise is that there are 5 millionaire/billionaire entrepreneurs who are the sharks and inventor/presenters stand in front of the sharks to make a pitch and get them to invest in their product. It is super intense and interesting.

The other night there was a woman who had a great product and did a great presentation–it looked like she was going to get a great offer from the sharks BUT as they offered some advice and started discussing offers, her response shut the whole thing down and she walked away with zero investment.

As I watched it hit me that there was a strong spiritual lesson there for us. Mark Cuban, who is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks was talking with the lady and made a couple of suggestions of what he thought would be a good next step if they settled on a deal AND the crazy woman kept disagreeing with him, telling him that his ideas were wrong and basically just talking the whole time Mark was trying to help her!! I could tell Mark was disgusted and about to bail on the whole idea–he finally told her that he was about to offer her a deal but that since she wouldn’t quit talking long enough for him to get a word in then he was out. She was ridiculous and then it hit me….

How much like the woman who walked away with nothing I can be. How often do you and I stand before the God of the universe and we don’t stop talking long enough to hear what He has to say??? Mark Cuban is a brilliant investor/business man/entrepreneur and that poor woman was dumb enough to completely ignore what he had to say about a business that he knows much more about than she does….do I ever refuse to listen because I think I’m right or that I know all I need to know about whatever?

Not only do we do that with the Lord when we don’t get quiet and still enough to hear Him but we also do that with people around us who have been there–people who are just enough farther down the road than we are and have some experience that could help us make a wiser choice. Let’s be honest–there are so many people that we can learn from if we will just get in front of them and listen AND of course we need to be intentional about letting God speak to us on everything…and once He does speak–we would be wise to get busy doing whatever He tells us to. I don’t want to be the woman who walks away with nothing because I talked too much or refused to listen…

Be still and know that I am God…

If anyone lacks wisdom let her ask of God who gives generously…

because there are sharks out there that are after us and we would be wise to listen to the ONE and ones who know more than we do:) thanks Mark for the wake up call…

Rachel

Lighten Up this year…

Well the holidays are upon us. I wonder what this year’s news of Black Friday craziness will bring? it never fails to break my heart to think about  the celebration of the birth of our Savior being ushered in with people acting crazy over a good deal—it’s disgraceful and I’m not so sure we as believers are doing much to stop the madness.

As I consider my own life and frantic pace during some past holidays, and as I look around, it occurs to me that we in the church (all Christians not just at my church) have let society dictate to us what Christmas should be about. How has that happened?? I mean, what is our problem? How do we listen and follow the lead of a culture which is so counter-Christ??

Friends, it’s time!! It’s time for us to take back Christmas! To place Christ where He should be in our lives and in our celebrations–right at the center. I’m burdened that I, and many others, have allowed this deviation from Christmas to happen on our watch. Just like anything else that the Lord burdens me with, I began to consider what do I do? How do we as believers make changes and how can we stand against culture most effectively??

Imagine what could happen if:
-our Christmas season really is all about Jesus and not about impressing others or running ourselves ragged like culture says we should.
-we choose to invite some people over(maybe lost people) and share some favorite Christmas memories together.
-our encounters with others in stores, schools, work or wherever are all about bringing light into the dark of this world (Matt 5:16)

Maybe, just maybe the world is waiting to see some Christians who are willing to live what they say they believe–every day. If we decide to look like who we say we follow then wow! there is no limit to what God can do with us then.

I definitely don’t have all the answers but I do know this–we have to be intentional. If we don’t have a plan then we will default to the easiest setting and that will be what the world dictates. There is probably no time of the year when people are more open to conversations about Jesus. SOOO what if we just commit to talking about Jesus every day —with someone, somehow, anywhere??? Matt 5:16 says “Let your light so shine before men that they see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” Let’s take it seriously and let our lights shine. One of the best ways to do that is to make Jesus a part of our everyday conversations. Share your faith, tell your story, talk about your Savior to someone every day.

When I’m being intentional about bringing Jesus into my conversations it’s interesting what leaves my conversations–things like ugly words, negative talk, whining, bragging, fussing and so on- will all have to be absent from the way that I talk (whether in person or online). When I bring Jesus in–they go out…and that can only be a good thing:)

leaders who care about their influence…

Today is my hubby’s birthday–its a big one–50. That means that we have been married over half of his life (lucky him <grin>) and he has been in ministry for about 30 something years–wow! that’s impressive.

There are lots of things I could say about how great he is and how blessed I am–all of which are true, but Ive noticed something lately that has me bothered and i want to compliment my husband because he has NEVER been guilty of what I’ve been seeing.

Leaders are responsible for their influence. We’ve all heard that and we need to take it seriously. In all the years I’ve been with Jeff, he has NEVER EVER been cavalier about his responsibility to lead well. We’ve had fun, we’ve worked hard, we’ve struggled with things, we’ve celebrated, we’ve cried, prayed and laughed and we haven’t done everything perfectly–who has?–BUT we have because of his leadership erred on the side of caution.

You may be wondering what I talking about and here’s the deal. I read big time bloggers who have large followings in Christian circles, and read things about how its funny to hide your lifestyle from one set of people and joke around about beer and alcohol or hear about leaders who ridicule others of the faith because they have different beliefs and convictions. Last time I looked we, who say we are Christ followers, are all supposed to be on the same team and we who have been given leadership roles, however large or small, are accountable for what we ‘teach’ and how we lead. Under the guise of being authentic I have read about “hiding things from one group” and changing how you act according to who you are with–where I come from that’s pretty fake and not authentic at all.

Jeff has taught me that even if something isn’t a struggle for me–i need to be very careful about treating it lightly because those who listen to me speak or read something that I write may have a completely different relationship with that issue. I have always enjoyed making people laugh but am I more concerned about getting the laugh than I am about influencing someone for Christ? That’s a question more leaders need to be asking themselves.

On my hubby’s birthday, in his honor, I felt led to give a call out for leaders to take their roles seriously and treat the influence that you have been given with great respect. If we don’t then Heaven help us when we are faced with the devastating results that can happen. Hezekiah struggled with dishonoring his leadership, Saul did and lots of others did also–they paid the price for their disrespect and I don’t want that for any of us.

May we be leaders who err on the side of caution and discernment. may we NOT be afraid to stand for living above reproach and  as Eph 5 says “be very careful then how you live, as wise not as unwise-making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil”.

May our words and actions line up–may we refuse to be one person in one setting and someone else when the company changes. May we be authentic and real without offending and cutting down and may we remember that we are all on the same team and our goal is to reach the lost with the love of JESUS.

My man has been committed to sharing his faith for more than 40 years and cares so much about his influence. I respect that and I am so grateful that I have gotten to share my life with him–the lessons I’ve learned have been invaluable. I love his authenticity and realness.

Pray for leaders you know and encourage them in how they lead. It is a privilege and a responsibility:)

Rachel

Dare to…

When was the last time you intentionally invested in a relationship with someone who is different from you? Recently our church had an event called Dare to Move and we were challenged to stop letting fear keep us paralyzed.

I had the privilege to lead just a small portion of the evening focused on this topic of moving outside our comfort zones and investing in relationships with other women who may not be just like us.

Honestly, this is a real issue with us. Whether you are a church lady (grew up in church and are very engaged in that culture) or a woman who is unengaged from things of God, we all tend to develop relationships with people who are already like us and that’s normal BUT, and its a big but, we are missing out on so many opportunities to grow and to reach people when we let fear of rejection keep us paralyzed.

My sweet friend Colleen Sturgis who came to Christ as an adult and remembers what it was like to have ‘church lady’ interactions joined me and we spoke to both sides of the issue with some Tips on how you and I can be more intentional about developing these vital relationships. This link has the slides we used and we will soon have the video clip available to watch: http://longhollowwomen.com/daring-to-share-preview/

It is amazing how many people have shared a word with me or with Colleen of how they identified with something one of us said. Look over the tips above and prayerfully ask God what He wants you to learn and who is around you that needs to know you care about them. Be real and be open–we never know how much time we have so we need to make the most of every opportunity that comes our way!!! (Eph 5:16)

Keep it Real–I dare you…

Rachel

for all you moms….

For all you moms who sometimes wonder if you’re getting it right…and pretty sure you aren’t lots of times—this is for you…if you’ve ever felt like you were losing the battle of the wills, or what in the world you ever did to deserve that kind of behavior???, or “will these kids ever stop fighting and act like they love each other”…you are not alone and I want to offer you hope.

I know how you feel. Really. There were so many times when my kids were younger, they are now 22, 20 & 16, that I really questioned my effectiveness. I would get so frustrated with myself at the way I handled situations and wonder if I had really scarred them for life. We had times when one might be facing an identity crisis (another story for another day) when grades were not all they could be, when it seemed all they did was argue and fight and we never heard kind words between them, when I would worry and stress over their future (would they grow into healthy people who love and serve God?, had we somehow skewed their perception of how great God is by our own actions) you get the picture…so anyway here is the hope.

One day you will get a phone call from your son or daughter asking you to pray for their friend because a lot is going on and they want you to join them in prayer. (smile) You will hear one of your kids tell you about talking to that kid at school who is lost and how they got to pray with them (smile) and then you may even get to read something like this in print that reminds you that we, as parents do all we can , none of us are perfect but oh my—our God is bigger that our mistakes and He alone can turn our kids into the godly influences He wants them to be—and believe me—the generation we are raising is a powerful generation and they are going to do HUGE things….check out this blog my daughter (20) wrote, and I promise you, we made as many mistakes with her as you have, but God…

I’m On A Boat http://wp.me/p35mzO-Q….and then we get to the place where we are learning as much from them as we are teaching (huge smile)–makes me wonder how safe in the boat I am right now????

Hang onto hope and remember only you are called to be mom to your kids. God does NOT make mistakes!

Rachel

 

Here it Comes…

Wow, I have been on a bit of a break from posting and working any social media for several reasons (mostly because I have been working on a couple of big writing assignments and had no spare time) but once again, I notice that time just flies. Here it is October–and I am grateful to be living in such a beautiful part of the country, especially in the fall, but October sort of snuck up on me. Anybody else?

Last week my sister and I had the great privilege of taking my mom on a birthday trip to Charleston SC. It was mom’s 70th birthday   (although you would never guess that from seeing her) as we debated what to do to make this tear a special celebration, we hit in the idea of just spending time together and making memories, laughing about goofy stuff and poking around dusty antique stores together (that’s one of mom’s fav things).
I must say that the few days together exceeded my expectations. We walked our legs off, talked a ton, ate all kinds of stuff, shopped and just enjoyed being together. Sometimes the best way we can celebrate someone who is important to us is just to be with them, to take the time to hangout and do things together.

My sister, Kara, and I were talking about all that mom has accomplished in her 70 years and it’s really quite impressive–she has been married to my dad for 49 yrs, raised 3 girls, been a Nana to 5–and on top of all the family things she is a nurse who earned a doctorate, served in the VA for years helping homeless veterans find hope again, has been there for countless friends thru difficult illnesses even thru their last days, she is a prayer warrior and mission minded leader in her church…the list goes on but one thing she has always done is care about people. She has always opened her home to whoever needed it, hospitality is just second nature to her and I am so very grateful for all she has taught me and continues to teach me about living life as a godly woman.

You know–this life really does move on by pretty fast, I wonder, are we in the habit of taking the time necessary for the people around us? People were important to Jesus. He stopped what He was doing to minister to their needs. May we never become too busy with ‘whatever’ that we neglect the people in our lives. Let them know what they mean to you and also be prepared for those He may be going to drop across your path today.

The holidays are just around the corner now–what are you doing so that you don’t become caught up in the craziness and you can just be focused on what matters? and on Jesus–the One the whole thing is about???

If we don’t plan to be intentional about Jesus this holiday season, we run the risk of missing out on what is most important. I have some of my lighten up resources back available so check them out if you’re interested –or make your own plan but do something to be counter culture this year!!!

:)Rachel