3 Dangers When Sharing Your Story

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Contributed by guest blogger Kris Castro

Have you ever been having a casual conversation with someone, when suddenly the topic shifts over to a personal circumstance they are struggling with that you have already walked through, but never told anyone about?

In that moment you have to make a split second decision: Do you share your story….or do you keep silent, providing a sympathetic nod, while hoping that person will simply move onto another subject?

There are 3 Dangers to consider when sharing your story:

  1.  You become invincible.
  2.  You may save a life.
  3.  You will fall more in love with Jesus

Now, if you are wrinkling your forehead in confusion wondering how those 3 items can be considered “dangerous,” I’ll let you in on a little secret….your story, when shared with others, is one of the most dangerous weapons you have against the lion that prowls around looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

Photo by Rene Asmussen / Pexels

An article on ChristianityToday.com in 2007 asked 1000 Americans three questions to discover their feelings about fear, shame, guilt, and other issues.  The result of the survey was this: 38%  said they avoid shame the most, while 31% said guilt and 30% said fear.”

Thinking about publicly sharing the story of your journey through any sort of brokenness  can elicit all three of those emotions.  Fear about what others might think of you; shame at some of the things you did; and guilt around the people you hurt or the consequences that happened because of your choices.

Keeping your story locked up deep inside you as a bad memory and former life you want nothing to do with is certainly one way to move on from that painful experience. But it’s also the perfect recipe for the Adversary to hold you hostage to your past anytime he feels like it.

Let’s go back to that split-second decision….

….Did you ever consider that one of the ways the Lord had always planned to bring

Photo by Fernando Andrade / Pexels

beauty out of the ashes of your past (Isaiah 61:1-3) was to use your story as a redemptive opportunity to help others in their present situation?

 

Your story is DANGEROUS TO THE ENEMY for all 3 reasons I mentioned:

1) You become invincible

You know that saying, “Only a fool would underestimate a man with nothing to lose” ?   It is more than true…it’s powerful.  There’s a deep peace that settles inside you – which becomes stronger than anything that can happen around you – when you experience the freedom of letting go of your past through sharing your story.

Photo by Li Sun from Pexels

In a sense, you really do become invincible because no one (especially the devil) can twist the information to use it against you once you’ve shared it publicly the way you experienced it!

The same thing happens in the political arena all the time whenever a negative story is about to break wide open. The person at the center of the story can either remain silent and wait for the public backlash, or they can rush to the media to tell their version of the story first in an attempt to control how it’s perceived.

Being Invincible certainly does not prohibit some consequences of sharing your story. What it does, though, is provide a solid foundation of self-worth and inner confidence as you “face the music” of those who might not understand and choose to treat you differently because of your choice to share your story.

As sons and daughters of Christ, we have to remember that the Lord did not put us on this earth to simply live a quiet 70+ years and then off to heaven we go.  He has a purpose for each of us, and sharing our stories is part of that purpose (1 Peter 3:15).

2)  You save lives

I’m fine.”  How many times have you heard that response from others only to find out later that those very same people have been experiencing life altering challenges; keeping everything quiet because they are barely holding it together and afraid of what will happen if they let someone into their extremely difficult situation.

What those people need are assurances that they are not alone, and that the God of the Impossible has the power to step in and turn everything around for our good (Romans 8:28).  I know…because the Lord sent me on a “Crazy” 12K+ mile Adventure across the U.S.  to share my story in order to bring hope and provide encouragement to hundreds of people currently walking out a variety of incredibly difficult situations in their own lives.

As I traveled from state to state, I recognized the Lord had not coordinated that “Crazy” Adventure just for me, but rather as an incredible testimony of HIS faithfulness and desire to take care of all His kids because of how much He loves us.

Photo by Rahul from Pexels

A recent article on CNN.com shows a very concerning statistic:  “The suicide rate in the United States continues to climb, with a rate in 2017 that was 33% higher than in 1999.” 

It’s the second leading cause of death for those 15 – 24 years-old. Often that is because they get stuck in a mindset of hopelessness, feeling trapped in a cycle of emotional pain, causing them to withdraw which increases loneliness and exacerbates the hopelessness/trapped feelings. After a while, stopping the pain any way they can causes suicide to become a viable option.

YOUR STORY might just be the light the Lord has chosen to help them find their way back out of that very dark place to potentially save their life.

3)  You fall more in love with Jesus

This is the most interesting by product of sharing your story.  With each re-telling to the next person the Lord brings your way who needs to hear it, you step into a sacred place of thankfulness which becomes a tangible awareness of His love for you, which leads to a deeper place of intimacy with Him.  Just like human relationships (marriage or friendship), intimacy builds trust which then activates more faith in the other person, which breeds more love resulting in more intimacy thus naturally experiencing more love….repeat!

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Deeper love and intimacy with the Lord means your identity is no longer focused on “you.”  It is now focused on Jesus flowing through you. That shift means that every need you have is met in Him, freeing you to join the Lord anywhere He leads, helping anyone He brings to you, in any way He asks of you….without concern for the outcome or the consequences.

HE WILL TAKE CARE OF THE OUTCOME because of your willingness to step out in faith to partner with Him (Isaiah 46:4).

Will you prayerfully consider sharing your story?

Here’s an easy and no-obligation way to begin that leap of faith to (consider) sharing your story:

Take This 2-minute survey (watch the video then click the green button).  You can even submit it anonymously if need be.

After you take the survey, check out the impact others have experienced from telling their stories.

Are you willing to become “Dangerous” by allowing the Lord to use your story to make a difference in the life of one of His other kids? 

Take the survey, and then contact me at Kris @ BeginToShift .com to learn how to begin your story-telling process.

Article References:
Christianity Today: “Shame, Guilt, and Fear: What 1,000 Americans Avoid Most”

CNN:   The US suicide rate is up 33% since 1999, research says


About today’s guest blogger, Kris Castro:

View More: http://xxiiiphoto.pass.us/icf-final-headshotsKris Castro is passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around her by giving them hope, encouraging them in their challenging circumstances, and helping them transform their relationship with the Lord in a deeper way. She describes herself as a Faithful Warrior, an Inspiring Visionary, and a Bold Change-Agent after 50 years of walking with the Lord through both joyful and extremely difficult seasons of her life.  Kris’s company, Shift Inc.™, creates possibility-rich environments filled with laughter, encouragement, and affirmation, leading to endless personal and professional growth opportunities.  Kris helps others truly realize their identity in Messiah, achieve the destiny the Lord desired for their lives, enhance their potential, increase their confidence levels, and overcome obstacles more easily to achieve their heart’s desire in every area. She absolutely loves coaching, training and mentoring others in a deeply transformative way using the Holy Spirit her guide.

Visit her blog.

Why Did God Invent the Church?

by Guest Blogger David Wentz

Why did God invent the church? Scholars have advanced various ideas. My own thinking goes back to the very beginning, and it builds on the way Jesus most often referred to God: as Father.

I have sometimes considered developing what I call a “theology of fun,” based on the idea that God created the universe just for the fun of it. Certainly nobody could force God to create! But I think there must be more to it.

Let’s start at the beginning. Not Genesis 1:1, In the beginning God created. . . .  I want to get behind that, to why God created. To do that we have to look at God himself.

How many ways can you think of that God is described in the Bible? God is great, God is just, God is holy, God is good, God is merciful. God is our refuge and strength and salvation. God is a spirit and a consuming fire. All these are descriptions of God. But one verse is not a description, it’s an equation. 1 John 4:8 says, God is love. Love is God’s essence. It’s who God is.

What is the greatest characteristic of love? Love wants to share. It’s a relationship. Love must be shared, or it isn’t love.

Since eternity, God has shared love in the Trinity. One of the most basic understandings of Christianity is that there is only one God, but this one God exists in three persons: God the Father, God the Son (who came to earth as Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. Without this community of divine persons to share love, God could not be love.

God, who is love, has been sharing love since eternity. But God’s love is not only eternal, it’s infinite. It’s overflowing.  God’s love wanted to overflow the Trinity.

What provides the greatest opportunity for an ongoing expression of love? A family – different personalities living together, adapting to each other, adjusting to each other, caring for each other, putting each other first. A family creates infinite possibilities for love. So God decided to create a family to share his love, with God and with each other.

God could have created us so that we had no choice but to love him, but that wouldn’t be real love. God could force us to act like we love him, but that wouldn’t be real love. Love is only real if it is freely given. God wanted to share real love. So God gave us free will.

Unfortunately, our free will doesn’t just give us the opportunity to freely love God. It gives us the opportunity to cause a lot of trouble as well. We see this in the very first human beings God created.

Adam and Eve shared love with God for a time. Genesis 3 implies that God used to enjoy walking with them in the Garden of Eden. But one day they exercised their free will to disobey God, and that time of innocent family fellowship was broken.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”  – Genesis 3:8-9

God experienced the heartbreak of a father whose children turn against him and get lost in the world. Adam and Eve’s disobedience broke up God’s family. The whole rest of the Bible records God’s plan throughout history to bring his children back.

For a while God tried to relate to the whole growing human race, but they turned from God and became so wicked that God had to destroy them all in Noah’s flood (Genesis 6-8). He tried again with Noah’s descendants, but instead of trusting God, they built a tower and put their trust in it. They were unified, but not in God. To keep it from happening again, God confused their language, and the human race scattered across the earth (Genesis 11).

So God changed strategies. He decided to relate in a special way to one group of people, who would get to know and love him. Then they could invite the rest of the world into God’s family. God chose the children of Abraham, the nation-family known as the Hebrews, Israel, or the Jews.

King Solomon understood. He prayed at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem that all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do (2 Chronicles 6:33).

God’s desire has always been to live among his people. When Israel wandered in the wilderness, God told Moses, Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them (Exodus 25:8).

When the Hebrews conquered the Promised Land and started living in houses, God approved David’s plan to build a house where God could live. It was called the Temple, and God filled it with his presence (2 Chronicles 6:1). For the next thousand years, a series of temples in Jerusalem were the focus of God living among his people.

Unfortunately, somewhere between Solomon and Jesus the Hebrews lost their understanding of what it meant to be God’s chosen people. They forgot God chose them as messengers to invite the whole world into his family. Instead, they began to believe God chose them to be the only members of his family. Instead of welcoming other nations, they scorned them.

So God started again, with Jesus. But this time membership in the family wasn’t by genes but by choice. The Bible says, Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children (Romans 9:8). “The children of the promise” are the church.

The church – all people, of Jewish or non-Jewish descent, who put their faith in Jesus – is now the family of God. And our loving Father has commanded us to bring as many people into the family as will accept the invitation. When we do that, we become the fulfillment of God’s desire to live among his people. Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16).  Where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them (Matthew 18:20).

God so longs to live among his people that when we die, God takes us to live with him until the end of time. And at the end of time, when everything is put the way God wants it, where will God live? With his people.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.” –  Revelation 21:3

God is not looking for a place to live in. He has that in heaven. God is longing for a group of people to live with. God’s plan in creating human beings was that we would be his family. Fulfilling that plan is what the church is all about.

Like any father, God desires a home where he can rest and be himself. Like any father, God desires to raise up children who will be like him. And because God is the ultimate and infinite Father, God desires for his children to bring other people to become part of God’s family – ideally, every other person in the world!

These three desires of God show us the three purposes of the church.

First, the church exists to create a loving family home where God can rest and be himself. Arise, O Lord God, and enter your resting place (2 Chronicles 6:41). The way we do this is traditionally called worship.

Second, the church exists to raise God’s children to be like their heavenly father. Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children (Ephesians 5:1). The way we do this is traditionally called discipleship.

Third, the church exists to equip God’s children to bring other people into God’s family. Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). The way we do this is traditionally called evangelism.

Everything we do as a local church – in fact, everything we do as Christians – should contribute to fulfilling one or more of these three purposes. How does your church stack up? Top of Form

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The above is taken from the first chapter of Pastoring: The Nuts and Bolts, by David Wentz. A comprehensive, theologically and culturally neutral compendium of practical options and best practices for being a pastor and leading a church, Pastoring is being used in pastor training courses in Africa and Asia as well as the US. It is available in print or e-book at www.books2read.com/pastoring. Scripture verses are from the New Living Translation.

 

 


About guest blogger David Wentz: 

Serving as a pastor since 1981 has honed David’s passion for helping people connect with God and make a difference.

Add a varied church background, a first career in engineering, and graduate degrees from three very different seminaries (charismatic, mainstream and Wesleyan-evangelical) and you can see why he expresses God’s truth in ways everyone can appreciate.

Raised in the Episcopal church, David has also been part of Nazarene, Pentecostal Holiness, and non-denominational congregations. As a United Methodist pastor he has served small, large, and multi-cultural churches in rural, small town, suburban and urban settings. David served as a regional church consultant in the Maryland – D.C. area and has led workshops for pastors in Turkey. In 2015 he retired to the rural Ozarks, where he writes, works in God’s great outdoors, and continues to pastor part-time.

David-Wentz
In 1974, David married his college sweetheart, Paula. They have five children, all with wonderful spouses, and fourteen grandchildren.

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David earned a B.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia; two Masters of Divinity, one from Melodyland School of Theology and one from Wesley Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Ministry in Christian Leadership from Asbury Theological Seminary.

In his spare time David enjoys playing sax and flute in jazz and blues jams (though those are hard to come by in bluegrass country), and writing worship music with his guitar.

His heroes are John Wesley, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (And for you old baseball fans, Brooks Robinson.)


Please visit our websites: Christian Editing ServicesCreating Christian Books for KidsPray for Ministries around the World, and Find Christian Links 

Questions? Email karen@ChristianEditingServices.com

The Witness

by guest blogger Eryeza Kalalu

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and you shall be witness to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”[1]

Is Christ On Trial?

Now and again, it looks like Christ is on trial.  There are a lot more publications concerning the earthly life of Jesus than on any other figure in history. Yet people still doubt His coming to the earth.

The death of Jesus Christ is the most detailed, yet millions of people consider His death a myth.

The Bible records Christ’s resurrection and ascension, but many people trash such accounts. As a result, individuals treat lightly the return of Christ.

  • Christ Before another Court!

Much as Jesus’ death was God’s plan, the practical execution of His death was a court decision. Even after Jesus’ resurrection, the authorities made deliberate efforts to conceal the facts around His resurrection.

The chief priests and elders bribed guards of the tomb to report falsely that the disciples stole Jesus’ body.

  • Will You Be Recruited?

Because of the legal attempts to defeat the testimony and Life of Jesus, it makes sense that Jesus promised to empower His disciples, so they become His witnesses. By all means, Christ’s witness should be stronger than the deceit against Him.

You are that witness. You should covet the power of the Spirit, so your life can persuade men and women against the deceit of the devil regarding faith in Christ.

  • A Serious Matter!

Christ needs a witness where you live and thank God you are right there! How you present the gospel determines the eternal destiny of men and women. That is the extent of your influence. It is an eternal influence.

Nothing is as devastating as a silent witness. You’ve got to speak out. Put out a cause for Christ.

  • What Is Your Identity?

People know you by your political affiliation. You have identified with the tribe you come from or the football club you support. And people know these things concerning you because you are vocal about them. Yet you are almost silent about your faith in Christ.

  • Conclusion

Today, I set a challenge before you. Ask God for the power to witness to both known and unknown places. The time is now to employ a portion of your resources to sponsor the preaching of the gospel to places distant and near.

Above all, let your lifestyle witness for Christ. Jesus calls you to witness and be a witness. Many souls are depending on your witness.

[1] Acts 1:8


About today’s guest blogger:

Eryeza Kalalu is a pastor at Rivers of Life Healing Centre and author of Becoming an Influence, which is book 1 of a devotional series. He is married to Geraldine and they are the proud parents of a son.

His goal is to inspire men and women to dominate their spheres of influence. Above all, he wants to show the world how one can impact the earth whilst certain of his or her eternal destiny, which is anchored in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and how to impact communities without compromising godly principles.

Eryeza came to Christ when he was little. He has since never looked back. He has now grown, learnt many lessons, raised through the ranks Church ministry. He has made observations, studied and researched the Scriptures, and made conclusions on several concerns of life. His passion is to pass on those insights and principles to as many as he can. This is now the driving force behind his preaching, teaching, training and writing.

He lives with his family in Uganda – a beautiful country, home to the source of the River Nile, which Winston Churchill named the Pearl of Africa. Find Eryeza at his website www.eryezakalalu.com, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Weighing the Cost Pt. 2: The Four S’s

by Guest Blogger Matt Giesbrecht

Paul recounts the measure of commitment it takes to follow Christ with an authenticMatt-G heart…[T]he authentic believer will weigh the cost of following Jesus.

The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21, “ For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” (New International Version). Considering his long-term ministry, which included tortures, stonings, illness, starvation and imprisonment, among others (see 1 Thessalonians 1:21-17 for a list of sufferings he endured), this is a remarkable conviction to hold.

I think Paul was able to write this way because he understood 1) the impact of the Gospel in his life and 2) the measure of commitment it takes to follow Jesus with full devotion.

Unfortunately, the understanding that Paul displays, I think, escapes most who promote the Christian faith. For the most part, our devotion stops at our carnal natures. For some “would-be” Christians, pride in what they know (or think they know) about Christ, rather than esteem for Christ Himself blinds them from the Truth of the Gospel. Others ascribe to the notion of being a “good person,” considering this a mark of salvation.  Still others justify sinful living, excusing themselves because they hold to a Christian (or “Christian-esque”) worldview. Instead of coming to the Throne Room of Christ in humility, too often we take snippets of the Truth and cut and paste them however we see fit, reducing Jesus to a caricature and discipleship to a formula.

Paul recounts the measure of commitment it takes to follow Christ with an authentic heart in Philippians 1. This cost is rarely communicated and more rarely accepted. Regardless, the authentic believer will weigh the cost of following Jesus and commit to the following:

Surrender

This is not something that our western world wants to believe. Quite the opposite actually. We are bombarded with messages about how we are due what is owed us or how we should hold to our individual rights. The problem arises when we hold to these values, and then confronted by Christ–who commands His disciples to deny our very lives to follow Him (see Luke 9:23-24)–we are required to surrender, to succumb.

Paul wrote in Romans 6:2-4 (NIV),

We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

We must remember that Christianity is not about making Jesus our Lord and Saviour. It is acknowledging the Lordship of Christ over us and surrendering to His Will, and giving up rights to our own. Surrender is God’s call to the sinner, a call that Michael Beck states is “to those who are still fighting His rule.” Yet, the believer’s life is one that reflects surrender by “put[ting] up no residual battle once we have fully accepted the reality of the Holy Spirit’s control,” (P. C. Walker).

Submission

Where surrender is to succumb to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, submission is our allegiant response to it.

For many in our society, submission is a negative term, denoting some kind of tyrannical force is at play. Rather, to submit under Christ is to concede willfully to Him, while remaining free to rebel just the same. Submission is the call to the saint to obey even when logic, emotion or the empirical counteract.

In short, understanding submission as obedience when it doesn’t make sense can be summed up in one word thematic in Hebrews 11–“faith”. Faith to obey in the goodness of God is a choice that bears much fruit. For beginning believers, submitting in obedience will be harder than for those who have walked with the Lord for longer. This is because, as we become more familiar with the goodness and loving character of God, the experience we gain is something on which we can rely. Therefore, submitting under God’s rule becomes more natural.

Submission is a requisite of the surrendered life. For by submission, we are moving toward holiness and away from rebellion. It is functional faith–the doing of our belief in Christ as Lord.

Sacrifice

Once more, the words of Paul chime, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1 NIV).

The sacrifice is the most humble method of worship as it is the giving up of something valuable in order to give worth to something else. To worship anything is to proclaim its worth (worship worthship). This is certainly a call of the believer and it is certainly not without cost.

The authentic disciple will learn to live sacrificially, esteeming Jesus Christ above all, whether materials, relationships, beliefs, even principles. Living sacrificially does not necessitate that we forfeit such things.  However, we are called to value Christ to the point where we would forfeit materials, relationships, etc. in light of the worth Christ has in our lives (see Matthew 10:37-39). A simple way to know how much worth we ascribe to Christ is by evaluating our willingness to forfeit all other things we hold dear in exchange for Him.

Suffering

One thing, in my experience, that makes western Christians squirm is the biblical calling to suffer, as Paul continues in Philippians 1. He states, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29 NIV).

Suffering is to lay down our own well-being or self-interest in order to bring God glory.

A. W. Tozer once regarded sanctification (the process of becoming godly) as suffering:

In human experience [the self] is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us and make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. To rip through dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus, and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free.

Yes, the call to suffer for Christ involves the continuing pain of exposed sin and repentance. As the Holy Spirit convicts us, we must learn to relinquish those things that we have worshiped, loved and on which we have become dependent that take God’s place as Lord. These could be the things as mentioned above, but also the carnal patterns in our lives that God regards rebellion.

We are called to remove these things that have become normal in our lives. When they are removed abruptly, it is as unsettling as a sliver removed from under the skin. But this is the suffering that occurs when we are committed to godly living.

It is when we are responsive to suffer in this way that we can take on the suffering as stated in 1 Peter 4:1-2 NIV:

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

Weighing the Cost

We as Christians must weigh the cost of our life under Christ’s rule by consider the 4 S’s: Surrender, Submission, Sacrifice, and Suffering. For when we weigh these things, others can truly know where our allegiance lies and will not wait for us to confirm nor deny our position with God. It will be clear by our lives that the Gospel has impacted us and that our response is to follow Jesus with full devotion.


About Matt Giesbrecht, Guest Blogger

Matthew-Giesbrecht_FCL-8-22-19Matthew Giesbrecht (BTh) and his wife live in Southern Manitoba, Canada. They have two small children. Matt has always aspired to be a writer, and it is his greatest joy to use his talents for the goodness of his Heavenly Father.

Matt’s passions have led him to try his hand at blogging about his faith walk on his page Chronicles of a Broken Saint. He hopes that his inklings will inspire others to place their faith in Jesus Christ. Matt understands that faith in the One called Truth is not easy in our culture of so-called relativism, but that it is an exercise of surrender, humility, obedience and wonderment. Chronicles of a Broken Saint centers on these real life faith issues.

You Should Write a Book

by Guest Blogger David Wentz

You should write a book.

If you’re a Christian, you should write a book. In today’s world many people know so little about Christ that they truly wonder why a reasonable and intelligent person would be or become a Christian. They wonder what difference it makes in your life. They wonder a lot of things about being a Christian that have nothing to do with theology and apologetics and all the stuff you may feel unqualified to discuss. You are qualified to discuss what being a Christian means to you. People want to read that.

If you’re a pastor, you’re already writing. Every sermon is a potential chapter. Every series is a potential book.

Modern publishing is amazingly easy. The entire process can be done from your home computer at no cost. And people need to hear what Christians have to say. The question is not, “Should I write a book?” Your only question should be, “Which book do I write first?”

For me the answer came when I was leading workshops for pastors in Turkey. Many are converts from Islam who never experienced an established church. They knew how to evangelize, but then they were stuck. They needed practical pointers on the life and job of a pastor. That was the start of Pastoring: The Nuts and Bolts.

They’re not alone. A Facebook group called Things They Didn’t Teach Us in Seminary has over 16,000 members. Knowing the Bible, theology ,and church history is vital, but pastors also need to know how to run a church.

Thirty-eight years pastoring experience plus a varied denominational and academic background added up to more than just teaching notes. I realized I had a book.

Experts say it’s important to expand your author platform. I started Facebook friending every name that popped up and offered to email my manuscript to anyone who would give feedback. I was blown away when a leader in Kenya asked to use it to teach his pastors. He turned it into a sixty-hour course of study. On August 25, sixty-three men and women received certificates of completion.

In Uganda, Pastoring was taught in a jail ministry. A superintendent in Kenya and a professor in Nigeria have used it. It’s been taught in India and Pakistan. All this just from the emailed PDF! Since it came out online in August, a publisher in India has asked for rights and I’ve had offers to translate into several languages. You never know what God might do with what you write.

You might think, “But I don’t have any great special knowledge. Why should I write a book?”

I thought I just knew what every pastor knows, but apparently not. One reviewer said, “I’ve been a pastor for fifteen years and I’m learning a great deal.” You have unique experiences, perspective and voice. Somebody out there needs that.

Here are some examples of my voice as I wrote to train and encourage pastors:

  1. A pastor’s job is to equip God’s people to do God’s work until they resemble God’s Son (Ephesians 4:12-13). Focus on that and God will take care of the rest.
  2. If you please your members, you will be popular and your church will be small. If you please outsiders you’re getting warmer. But if you please God, watch out – you might catch fire!
  3. God doesn’t condone human sacrifice. Don’t lay your family on the altar of your church.
  4. Your people don’t care about theology, so you have to. Nobody ever set out to invent a heresy. Your knowledge of theology and church history is your people’s spiritual safety harness.
  5. Never overestimate people’s vocabulary, never underestimate their intelligence. Some really smart people don’t know what “infralapsarianism” means. If you can’t put it in simple words, you don’t either.
  6. Learn from everybody. Worship as many ways and with as many kinds of people as you can.
  7. Sometimes God wants Lazarus dead. Jesus didn’t automatically answer Martha’s summons, he asked God what to do. Don’t let expectations drive your ministry.
  8. If someone can possibly find a way to misunderstand you they will. Vet your words for ways that might happen, before you put them out there.
  9. Your church sign is important, your name on it isn’t. Unless your name is Billy Graham, nobody cares who the pastor is. They just want to know what time to be there, in letters they can read at the speed limit.
  10. Have each other’s backs. Pastoring is a tough job. We may disagree on some major issues, but we are all in this together. We need each other.

These are things I’ve learned that might help other pastors. Of course there’s more to my book – 330 pages worth.

You’ve learned different things that might help different people. I bet if you started writing them down they’d come to many pages. Somebody needs to know them.

You should write a book!

Pastoring: The Nuts and Bolts available here!


About guest blogger David Wentz: 

Serving as a pastor since 1981 has honed David’s passion for helping people connect with God and make a difference.

Add a varied church background, a first career in engineering, and graduate degrees from three very different seminaries (charismatic, mainstream and Wesleyan-evangelical) and you can see why he expresses God’s truth in ways everyone can appreciate.

Raised in the Episcopal church, David has also been part of Nazarene, Pentecostal Holiness, and non-denominational congregations. As a United Methodist pastor he has served small, large, and multi-cultural churches in rural, small town, suburban and urban settings. David served as a regional church consultant in the Maryland – D.C. area and has led workshops for pastors in Turkey. In 2015 he retired to the rural Ozarks, where he writes, works in God’s great outdoors, and continues to pastor part-time.

David-Wentz
In 1974, David married his college sweetheart, Paula. They have five children, all with wonderful spouses, and fourteen grandchildren.

David-Wentz_2

David earned a B.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia; two Masters of Divinity, one from Melodyland School of Theology and one from Wesley Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Ministry in Christian Leadership from Asbury Theological Seminary.

In his spare time David enjoys playing sax and flute in jazz and blues jams (though those are hard to come by in bluegrass country), and writing worship music with his guitar.

His heroes are John Wesley, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (And for you old baseball fans, Brooks Robinson.)



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Questions? Email karen@ChristianEditingServices.com 

Weighing the Cost

by Guest Blogger Matt Giesbrecht

In His mercy, Christ bids us to weigh the cost to follow Him. However, those who respond to the free gift of salvation are those to whom Christ beckons to consider how to respond.

Jesus challenges His disciples in Luke 14:25-34 to weigh the cost of following Him, Matt-Gmaking sure to warn them with an illustration in verses 28-33 (New International Version):

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

I have a sinking feeling that many so-called Christians in our culture take little consideration of the calling that is the Christian faith. In many ways, it seems, Western Christendom (is that still a thing?) is treated more like a worldview, perspective, or philosophy, than it is a devoted, long-suffering commission. (Reducing anything to a mere worldview nullifies any real significance it has, making it one of many “options” among the plethora of competitive frameworks. This is a grave mistreatment of the promise of salvation through Christ Jesus.)

Christ calls us to discipleship, a calling to lose anything and everything that stands in the way of our devotion to Him. Twentieth century German theologian and martyr Diedrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “[t]he first Christ-suffering which [everyone] must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old [self] which is the result of [an] encounter with Christ,” (Diedrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, italics added). [Click here to read where else I use this quote.]

In His mercy, Christ bids us to weigh the cost to follow Him. This isn’t to say that we choose our salvation. Christ won salvation for all that are called by God. However, those who respond to the free gift of salvation are those to whom Christ beckons to consider how to respond. Those who respond in humility and lay down all else for the eternal gift of salvation commit to abandon earthly things (sin and anything that competes with God). These are chosen by the Heavenly Father and united in eternal fellowship with Him.

Christ is recorded in an earlier passage in Luke, speaking to this.

Luke 9:22-26 (NIV):

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

So what does it mean to forfeit one’s self? A common English definition of the passive verb “forfeit” is “to lose or to be deprived of something, (have something confiscated) out of consequence of wrongdoing.” So, Christ’s warning is to those who refuse to come under His Lordship and give up the things that claim allegiance in their own lives, in place of Him–the rightful claimant of their allegiance. These are the ones who shame themselves in the end and are rejected by Christ, as a consequence of rejecting Him.

However, the wellspring comes to those who, unlike the former, see the gain of surrendering to Jesus. I doubt this could be possible without them first truly understanding (and appreciating) salvation. This is, of course, our undeserved redemption from sin and bondage, but also our inheritance into the Kingdom of God and position as His holy stewards on earth–set apart for His mission.

Those who realise the gravity of their sins and understand the impact of Christ’s grace over them are those who are not only capable to weigh the cost to follow Jesus but also acknowledge the worth in doing so. They, not unlike their counterparts, forfeit their lives as well, consequently. However, theirs is an active forfeiting–out of allegiance to Christ. A necessary consequence of honouring Him. They have concluded that the world is worth losing in light of gaining much more: the abundance of knowing Jesus Christ.

My prayer is that more in this world would come to grips with this and surrender what can only serve as a loss in the end. I know that I would rather suffer earthly death than to give up eternal life with the God who loves me and calls me His own. The weight of losing this marvelous gift is far more than I can bear.


About Matt Giesbrecht, Guest Blogger

Matthew-Giesbrecht_FCL-8-22-19Matthew Giesbrecht (BTh) and his wife live in Southern Manitoba, Canada. They have two small children. Matt has always aspired to be a writer, and it is his greatest joy to use his talents for the goodness of his Heavenly Father.

Matt’s passions have led him to try his hand at blogging about his faith walk on his page Chronicles of a Broken Saint. He hopes that his inklings will inspire others to place their faith in Jesus Christ. Matt understands that faith in the One called Truth is not easy in our culture of so-called relativism, but that it is an exercise of surrender, humility, obedience and wonderment. Chronicles of a Broken Saint centers on these real life faith issues.

Overflow

by Guest Blogger Jason Moore

Jason-Moore_8-26-19_cup-overflowsThe psalmist shows us a life-giving secret to ministry. Overflow. He writes in Psalms 23:5, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

Overflow comes as we receive and respond to the Lord in our lives. As our hearts are filled with his promises, we are prepared for what a day will bring. Just as an eight-ounce glass spills over when more in poured into it, when we are filled to overflowing with God’s love, it “spills over” on others.

Often we measure out what we think we need for ourselves when God wants to pour out in abundance. As we delight in the Lord, our ministry to the Lord ministers to people. In worship we honor him with thanksgiving. Our hearts get full. He anoints our head with fresh oil (Psalm 92:10) and it overflows to others. If we change the order of this equation, we run the risk of giving people the best of ourselves and our solutions but not God’s best. Overflow of God’s presence creates more than problem solvers—it is life-giving.  

In the kingdom of God, we are called first “unto” Christ before being called “out” in ministry. Christ’s life is what produces real-life and transformation. In this place of communion, faith is born. A personal encounter with God develops a personal ministry to others.  

God’s will is for us to enjoy a love relationship with him first; then the overflow of that relationship will feed our call to action. Notice this in Lamentations 3:24-26: “I say to myself, The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him, The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” 

Live for the audience of One—this will have an eternal impact.


Many thanks to our guest blogger, Jason Moore. Please visit his websites: jasonfmoore.com and About Me

About Jason Moore

family christmas.jpgPassionate about reaching people from all walks of life, Jason Moore has been involved in worldwide mission work and discipleship since the age of sixteen. While living in Ukraine, he completed his internship in church planting, resulting in three new churches that continue to thrive today.

As a graduate of Maryland Bible College and Seminary with a Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies, he leads the Pastoral Care team of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore, MD. He serves as a guest speaker in churches throughout the United States and overseas. With his wife, Leah, and son, Carson, he is dedicated to guiding people in discovering the riches of God’s grace.