five minutes to let it shine

Over the past few Sundays, my pastor Todd has been encouraging our church to share our stories of grace authentically and intentionally with the people we encounter every day right here in Dallas. Last week, I had about five minutes to do what I knew God was impressing upon on my heart.

I was at Jamba Juice and a guy in his 20s was serving my sister-in-law Charis and I our smoothies. I asked him if he was a student and he wasn’t, but did have a kid. Charis talked with him a little bit about nutrition. He was easy to talk to and friendly. He poured the leftover smoothie from my cup and gave the remaining to my son. He also gave us some samples of their breakfast granola and dried fruit.

But that wasn’t it. I knew I was supposed to give him one of the orange cards that I carry in my purse that has the info to our church on it.

Then suddenly, about 3-4 people started coming through the door and he was slammed. 5 minutes pass by. Then 10. Then 15. I told Charis how I really wanted to invite him to our church, but the opportunity wasn’t happening.

I was determined to give him the card so while he was serving customers and getting their smoothies, I stepped in behind the counter. In the midst of all the blenders grinding and chatter, I invited him to come and told him how our church is full of young adults and has a great children’s ministry. I was a little concerned about who could hear me.

His eyes lit up and he smiled. “You know what?” he said. “I moved here a year ago and I’ve been looking for a church. Thank you so much! I’m going to check it out Sunday.”

Really? You are? I thought.

I couldn’t believe it. His response was not what I expected!

While inviting the Jamba Juice guy to church is not the same as presenting the gospel, it was an invitation for him to see the gospel at work in the lives of others. It was a step in the right direction.

I think so many times I wait for the perfect moment to say anything about my faith or my church, and it never happens. I fear what people think of me. I’m sometimes not walking in the spirit, or even know how to articulate my words naturally. I fear I will sound stupid or crazy. This experience taught me to shine my light in whatever window of opportunity exists and to just go for it and be who I am.

No matter what.

Have you had any opportunities to shine your light?

Tyler Merrick & Project 7

I’m always inspired by individuals who take risks for the sake of being obedient to God’s call. Tyler Merrick left his family business in Amarillo three years ago and moved to Dallas to start Project 7a consumer goods company that gives 50% of their profits to seven areas of need around the world.

Maybe you’ve seen some of their products in Whole Foods, Books-a-Million, Caribou Coffee and other stores. I love what Tyler and his team are doing, but even more so I love that he views his business as ministry.

That’s mainly what we talked about when I interviewed him on the phone yesterday for a project at work. He told me about the disconnect he saw between his professional life and personal ministry. He said, “I wanted the marketplace to be my mission field.” And so it has. With the platform God has given him, he’s had countless opportunities to build relationships and share his faith all over the country as the founder of Project 7.

And Tyler is making such a huge impact for the kingdom without being on staff at a church.

So how can you help? Check out this list of where Project 7 products are sold and go buy some bottled water, gum, mints, or a T-shirt so you can make a positive change in the world. Last night, I checked out the water aisle at our local Whole Foods, and found a  Project 7 water bottle. The writing on it read HELP THOSE IN NEED. It was so exciting to purchase, and then give back.

http://vimeo.com/4263078

Oh me of little faith

Heart’s racing. Knees weak. Stuttered words. What will they think of me? Will I be rejected? Laughed at?

Sharing my faith with other people isn’t always easy.

I fear and worry still today even when the last time I tried to get things going spiritually, everything went fine. My waiter was receptive. It was an awesome conversation. The last time I had the opportunity at my eye doctor’s office, I didn’t take it. I had a hard time transitioning into spiritual matters. I think most of all, I feared what the admin. assistant would think of me.

I’ve been really thinking though- what is the worse thing that could happen when we share our faith? The worse thing that has happened to me so far is that my husband was fired for sharing his faith on the job three months into our marriage. You can hear more about our story in this 3 minute video.

I remember in high school being called “religious” at times. I’ve had people change a spiritual conversation on me really fast. I’m guessing I’ve been made fun of for my facebook status updates that are about God. And I’m guessing someone may have chosen not to be around me because I love and talk about Jesus. But I can’t pinpoint anything (as of yet) where people cussed me out or just hated me after loving on them and sharing my story of grace.

And even if they did, that’s okay. I’ve been commanded not to be silent. Heaven and hell are at stake. I know, no one talks about hell anymore. But it’s the hard truth. It’s okay if our heart races a little and we feel like we’re going to fall over and die! Because God is the one who cultivates. Convicts. Redeems. Restores. He is the only one with the ability to raise a life up from the dead.

He just chooses to use us in his plan. I’m so thankful he does despite all my crazy, ridiculous fears.

Give Yourself Away

One truth I have learned for the last 10 years or so is that to truly find your life, you have to give it away. In a culture that is intensely focused on the individual, it’s a foreign idea to get your eyes off of yourself and onto other people. But this is the life we’re called to live. And it’s not the easy road. It costs something. And more often than not, something great.

Jeremiah and I have served with Apartment Life for almost 2 years now. We spend 70 hours a month organizing and planning dinners and events for our residents in order to build community and relationships with them. The platform we have is then an opportunity for us to share our lives with them (the good, bad, and the ugly) and for them to do the same with us. Our hope in turn is that we can share Christ’s love and hope. God has given us some awesome stories of life-change. Seeing hard-hearted friends who were burned by the church and wanted nothing to do with God, start to soften and embrace Him. And to finally see Him as their loving Father.

Experiences and stories like that give me great joy in helping fulfill the command to be on mission (Matthew 28:19-20). I have found joy like no other in seeing lives radically changed because of the gospel. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no greater joy than making others glad in God. That is what I think it means to give yourself away.

No man is an island. We were created for real-life relationships and community with other people. That means living life among those who are not like us and loving them where they’re at. This is what I’m being challenged with and it’s changing the way I see life and the purpose I was created for.

How can you give yourself away and help others become glad in God?

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