Overcoming Fear: Not Knowing What to Say

The following comes from our Synod’s Lutheran Hour Ministries and I believe addresses an issue for most of us:

The number one reason we, as Christians, avoid sharing our faith is fear. When asked the number one fear that hinders them from witnessing, time and time again Equipping to Share participants replied, “not knowing the right thing to say.”

The first step to overcoming a fear is to address it. If not having the right thing to say is one of the fears serving as an obstacle to your personal faith sharing, consider the below two points as you begin to address and conquer it.

Try to recall the time in your life when you were unable to multiply. I’m sure the very thought of being asked to do so terrified you. However, after studying and learning your timetables, you became comfortable spouting the answer to “What’s 5 times 5?” without blinking an eye. In fact, at this point, you likely can’t remember such a time when adding was your only mathematical capability.

Practice is the key to being prepared. The same rings true with confidently sharing the Gospel. Christians are directed to “always be prepared to give an account for the hope that is within you” (1 Peter 3:15b). Therefore, by having your story prepared and practiced, you will know what to say at any point in the event a mission moment occurs. After awhile, you will be so comfortable and confident in sharing your faith that you will likely forget the time you weren’t.

Does this mean you will become so prepared you will never be stumped again? No. You will likely encounter a time when someone asks you a question to which you do not have an answer. Do not feel inferior for not knowing. This is not a bad thing. In fact, this may create an opportunity to later connect with that person because you now have a reason to do so. Ultimately, it may establish a healthy camaraderie in that you are now learning together as a team.

Simply respond this way: “That’s a good question. I don’t know the answer, but I am certainly interested in learning that as well. Can I do a little research and get back to you?” Then, pick up the conversation where you left off before that point. Be sure not to forget to find an answer to the person’s question and get back to them later.

Next time you feel hindered from sharing your faith out of fear that you will become tongue-tied, consider the two above points; but, most of all, realize that the best help you can receive is at the cross. Ask God for His help in conquering this fear. He has help waiting.

In His Word, God tells us, “make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict” (Luke 21:14-15). Through full reliance on Him and preparation, we can overcome this fear and share our faith actively with boldness.

Provided by Sarah Guldalian, Editor
Coordinator, Equipping to Share

Mid-Week Stewardship Thought

Giving Is an Act of Worship

King David gave his personal fortune to the collection of money for the temple (1 Chronicles 29:2-3). Unlike many rich people who allow money to become their treasure. David’s devotion was to God rather than to money. He willingly gave a vast amount of gold and silver. After he had given his gifts, he appealed to the people to give to the temple. David probably had the wealth to complete the temple himself, but we can assume he knew the importance of all the people worshiping God through their giving.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You own all the animals in the forest and the cattle on a thousand hills. You have blessed me so freely. In the same way, help me to give freely to You. By Your grace, help me to grow in the grace of giving. May the way I manage my finances and my giving give You honor and praise. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

Blessings on your stewardship journey!

Joshua

September 1 is the day the church remembers Joshua, one of the great leaders of the people of Israel in the Old Testament. The Treasury of Daily Prayer has this to say about him: “Joshua, the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, is first mentioned in Exodus 17 when he was chosen by Moses to fight the Amalekites, whom he defeated in a brilliant military victory. He was placed in charge of the tent of meeting (Exodus 33:11) and was a member of the tribal representatives sent to survey the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:8). Later, he was appointed by God to succeed Moses as Israel’s commander-in-chief. Joshua eventually led the Israelites into the Promised Land and directed the Israelites’ capture of Jericho. He is remembered especially for his final address to the Israelites, in which he challenged them to serve God faithfully (Joshua 24:1-27), concluding with the memorable words, ‘As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord’ (24:15).”

I have loved the story of Joshua since my childhood and have used his message of serving the Lord first as a primary guide for my life. May you be blessed by remembering Joshua today!

Blessings from God

Yesterday we received a letter at home from a student at Concordia University in Seward Nebraska. I did not know this young lady before receiving a note from her but what she wrote touched my heart. She wrote to thank us for our gift to her school which helped provide funding for the scholarship she received. Without that scholarship, she said, she would not be able to attend school and fulfill her dream of becoming a Lutheran school teacher.

Not everyone is in the position the Lord has placed me and I am humbled to be able to share the blessings I have received to help others. It is an awesome responsibility to be a good steward of all God has given us and notes like I received yesterday provide special blessings from God.

I have learned that one of the easiest things to do is write a check to an organization to help them to reach their goals. It becomes more challenging when you “put a face” to the institution by having personal contact in some way because then you’re connected and the relationship moves to an entirely different level.

Because this young lady wrote to me, I now am directly tied to her. I have added her to my prayer list and I will write her a note today offering her encouragement and support. I have invested in the life and goals of another person and I will do whatever I can to be of service to her.

Do you see how the blessings from God have been compounded? A simple gift has brought so much back to me!

That’s the way our Lord works–what we give in His name will always come back to us in additional blessings for our life. That’s His promise and Scripture is filled with examples that support this. The parable of the talents, Malachi’s words which remind us how good the Lord is to us when we trust in Him, the story of Joseph in the Old Testament all let us know of the value to believe the words of Him who gave us life. He will not fail us!

Now, maybe you are not able to give financially as you would like. That’s all right because our Lord only asks for faithfulness in our stewardship and to give sacrificially of ourselves. I also have some toilet paper in my trunk that is going to the Center for Food Action. Months ago I learned that often times folks give generously of food items to the Center, but forgotten are other needed things like soap and toilet paper. Therefore, I will pick some up for those who don’t have what I have. Maybe you can do the same.

It’s great to see the blessings of God in our lives. Look around and I know you’ll be surprised with all He has done for you.

Review–Emeril’s Chop House

I had the pleasure of traveling to Bethlehem–no, not in Israel but Pennsylvania–for dinner yesterday at Emeril Lagasse’s newest restaurant, Emeril’s Chop House. This eatery is part of the Sands Casino complex (more on that later) and has been open since May. If this is what other Emeril restaurants are like, they speak very well for themselves.

Reservations are a must and I was able to make them on-line. Don’t wait until the last minute but plan your visit days ahead to get seating at your preferred time (a word of warning, Saturdays book very, very early!). The process was simple and easy to accomplish.

We (I had a couple of dining companions make the trek with me) arrived plenty early–the trip from Ringwood is only about 90 minutes. One alert for those of you who depend on GPS units for directions–the Sands complex is new enough it probably won’t show up as a valid address. Don’t worry, just get off at exit 67 from Interstate 78 and follow the signs.

The decorations are very tasteful. Remember, you are in the inside of a former factory and the ceilings are very high. With the use of great lighting, the area is transformed into a very light and airy space.

Our waitstaff was excellent. They knew their jobs and did them very well. When our server began to give us the information about the evening’s specials, she never missed a beat and provided all the details perfectly. Service was efficient throughout the meal.

We began with a salad of grilled peaches and several other items that was quite the treat. My companions both ordered one of the specials–white tuna with creole sauce. They said it was excellent. My entree was a New York Strip steak and it was prepared very nicely just as I had ordered. Along with the steak came three different sauces: Chef Emeril’s house-made Worcestershire sauce, creamy horseradish and Béarnaise. They all were very good.

I don’t know why we humans are always tempted with dessert but none of us could pass it up with this meal. One order for the Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée and two orders for Peach Cobbler (the peaches were prepared in brandy before being a part of the cobbler–yum!) None of us walked away hungry.

The only downside was the fact that the restaurant had no doors leading into the casino (and there’s no entry anywhere else), so the noise from the gambling does make its way into the dining area. This leads me to my other thought as I watched people continue to “feed” the video games (there are no table games at the Sands): many who gambled looked as if they couldn’t afford it. How sad and I will pray for them.

Regardless, a drive to Bethlehem was worth it. Emeril comes through again!

God Is NOT Tolerant … Grace Is NOT Tolerance

The following was written by Rev. Larry Peters (Grace Lutheran Church, Clarksville TN). I had the privilege of serving with Pastor Peters in the Mid-South District and I have admired and respected his ministry for many years. His words are necessary for today’s world:

Americans are, at heart, a fairly tolerant people. Sure we have a few folks whose raised voices clamor for the spotlight, whose rants and raves make it sound like we all belong to the lunatic fringe. Perhaps Nixon had it right, about the silent majority. American just want us all to get along. Not such an outlandish request, is it?

I think that when it comes to religion in America, we tolerate differences as long as they are quiet and do not challenge the thin veneer of unity that, for appearance’s sake, merges all the huddled masses into one huddled mass. We have a private idea of truth when it comes to religious truth. In public we like a somewhat bland religion, heavy on virtues and morality but not specific and not dogmatic.

So that is what many churches have become. They have been Americanized and have ended up pretty vague on the specifics and pretty broad on religious truth (s). They have become like your favorite beagle, warm and cuddly and, if you do not move too fast, they will keep up and follow you where ever you go. And these American churches have been following, a little behind the times but on the same path, to all the cultural changes that have marked our societal transition over the past one hundred years or so.

For a long time, immigrant churches were somewhat immune from all of this. They lived on the fringes of American society and so they were “off the radar,” so to speak. The Roman Catholics did not hit main street until well after World War II but neither did the Lutherans. It took a few decades later and the Pentecostals also began their walk down the boulevard of American religion.

It would be a lie if we did not admit that it has changed us. We are tempted to become that bland “Wonder” bread religion that looks so good but is almost empty of vitamins, fiber, and nutrition. We want to fit it and be loved. But if you belong to Jesus Christ, you must prepare to be hated and vilified and persecuted.

God is NOT tolerant. He does not tolerate sin. We must not mistake His willingness to become our Savior as His tolerance of sin. He was so intolerant of sin that He bore all of its weight and took its stain in our place. He made Himself to be like us in every way but sin in order to bear the burden of our sin — death.

The Gospel is NOT tolerant. Read the passage about what happens to those who reject His gift of a wedding garment. No, God is neither casual or tolerant. If we make Him out to be, we render Him weak, impotent, and, ultimately, completely irrelevant to life.

Grace is NOT tolerance. Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery but He did not shrug His shoulders at her sin. “Go and sin no more.” Grace is not tolerance. Grace confronts sin and error and falsehood and lies but it confronts it not simply with condemnation. Grace confronts sin and error and falsehood and lies with the only power stronger than these evils — the power of God’s redemptive love at work for us and for our salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

A wise man once said “Clarity and charity…” Clarity about what the Gospel is, about how God deals with sin, and about the only Name under heaven and on earth by which anyone can be saved… but charity, too. Truth spoken in love — not to condemn but to redeem, not to excuse but to save, not to exclude but as the one power that is truly inclusive.

Christians are under great pressure today to tolerate what was once labeled sin… to accept what was once condemned… to be content with the way things are instead of striving for the way things should be. But let us not abuse the Gospel by giving in to tolerance and stripping the cross from the Gospel so that God’s answer is the shrug of His shoulder instead of the spilling of His blood… yet at the same time let us not be judgmental or delight in the failures of others or we will prove that the Pharisees have not gone away but are merely called by a different name today…

Clarity and charity… It is God’s way… it ought to be ours.