this is the way I talk about God

this is the way I talk about God 1I cringe inside when I hear the word "witnessing."

Not because I'm afraid.

Not because I'm ashamed.

Because the word fills my mind with pictures of things I don't want to be. I don't want to be the extreme Right - thumping my Bible, asking people where they would go tonight if they died, and saying "Bless you" every other word. I don't want to be roped in with hard-nosed talk show hosts, harsh disciplinarians, people with protest signs, and door-to-door salesman.

[I'm not saying those things are necessarily "BAD," mind you - I'm just sharing my heart].

I want to bear witness to LOVE - His love. I want to show mercy, to extend grace, to advocate for the poor, and to care for orphans and widows in their distress. In the midst of that light, I hope that His presence radiates.

this is the way I talk about God 2He isn't [part of] my life. He IS life. As I wipe messy faces, rock crying babies, kiss rosy cheeks, listen to friends, and run on the sidewalk...he is THERE. In every nook and corner of my heart. In the ups-and-downs, the tears and triumphs, and the oops-I'm-sorrys.

I'm just an ordinary girl. I love my husband. I adore my kids. I sing "Say Hey (I Love You)" by Michael Franti when I give the girls a bath at night. I eat granola and yogurt for breakfast. I read The New York Times, the Huffington Post, and the Bible. I'm not sure how I feel about the current model of church in America. I wear blue jeans and mascara. I drink wine with dinner. I babywear and cosleep and try not to litter. I don't have a single bumper sticker on my car.

And yet...yet...I also know that there is power in His name. Jesus. He saves. He is hope.

this is the way I talk about God 3I don't wear a WWJD bracelet. I don't leave tracts on coffee tables. I don't watch TBN (In fact, I avoid it because it can drive me crazy). I don't forward e-mails to protest gay rights (I don't forward e-mails at all). I haven't led someone in the "Sinner's Prayer" in God-knows-how-long.

But I DO think that I am actively striving to point people to Christ. With my life (and with my words too...they're just not the words typically associated with "evangelism").

{I'm still figuring all of this out}

What are the first words that come to mind when you hear the word "Jesus"? What about "Christian"? Or "Witnessing"? How do you share God with the people in your life?

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29 comments on “this is the way I talk about God”

  1. Linked from Genny's.

    Great article. I like your approach to bearing witness (there is that word!) to God. A Jesus-centered lifestyle is the best, maybe only, way. Jesus didn't drive people away with self-righteousness; he drew them with is caring spirit.

    Great post.

    wb

  2. One (of many) things I love about you is your honest heart. This post is beautifully written! The way you and your family live and love others is an excellent example of Christ's love.

    I have been thinking so much about this topic lately. I have spoken with several people(Christians and non-Christians) about how they view Christ followers. The non-Christians I spoke with are so turned off from (some) Christians. They feel like they could never be at the level of the people who say, "bless you" every other word or quote bible verses during normal conversations and then judge and talk about how bad people are and that they are going to hell if they don't do certain things. These conversations really made me look into my own heart and think about the way I project Christ's love. I would never want people to think of me as a "Bible Thumper" or a "Holy Roller." I want people see me as a normal person who makes mistakes everyday, but tries my very best to love people and love Jesus.

    I don't say "Bless You" unless someone sneezes. I go to church, but not every Sunday. I love Jesus and want to show his love through forgiving, volunteering, helping the homeless and sick, listening and loving others and not judging people. By the way, this is what I think about when I think of Jesus. He hung out with people who were the "sinners" of the group. The sick and homeless that others ignored. The people who were shunned by the religious people. He has so much grace and mercy. The unconditional love that Jesus has for us is awesome! I can be rude, sometimes say a swear word, judge people, lose my patience...the list goes on. Yet, I know He loves me anyway. The non-perfect person I am.

  3. I takes all types, but I'm the type who wants to show God's love through my own love...not so much through tracts and witnessing. I especially want to show His love to my children, so that they might in turn choose to be a light in this world.

  4. My grandparents shared a funny story with me. I of course knew my grandfather was always a Bible-reading Christian whose priorities were always serving God, family, & our nation the best he could. But as an uneducated boy from a small country town that barely exists now, his options were limited. He served in WWII, used his G.I. bill money to buy a house, and then worked long hard hours as a railroad engineer so my Grandma could be a stay-at-home mom to their 4 kids. He had to work Sundays for decades, and while he read the Bible and lived out his faith at home & in the rail yard, he couldn't attend church.
    After he retired, he went to my Grandma's Bible study with her, and everyone talked down to him. They were frankly kind of rude and assumed he was "unchurched". But at some point he started quoting scriptures relevant to the discussion off the top of his head, correctly and showed up the catty ladies.
    Anyway, I always think of that story when I'm tempted to make assumptions about others and whether I need to "witness" to them in ways other than living out my faith through my actions!

  5. What a great post Stephanie. Thank you for sharing your heart. You really do LIVE your faith.
    I also love the quote from Francis of Assisi that Rollo shared.
    Jesus brings to my mind the words- Savior, Lord, & (thankfully) new life. Christian- humility, sacrifice, & (sadly) misunderstanding. I think if we were better at being true followers of Christ the word might be a little easier for some to digest. However, as a former "Christian resenter" myself, I know that many of the issues I had with them were actually my own. I think now when I identify myself as a Christian I try to briefly explain what that means on a personal level- as in a flawed person doing her best to follow Him, rather than someone going through the motions of corporate "holiness."
    I have the faintest cringe inside when I hear the word "worship" used to mean music. It just feels so churchy. Yes, we worship with music, but I had a pastor that really emphasized that true worship is with our whole life, not just when we are singing, etc but mostly when we are "wiping messy faces" & "listening to friends" & so on.

    1. I actually used you as an example when I was discussing this post with Tim (he reads all of my posts before I publish them). I said something like this, "Dayna is the kind of person who just radiates Christ - from within. I think I would know she was a Christian almost immediately upon meeting her."

      Also - I totally hear you on the word "worship." It means so much more than music.

  6. I'm not ashamed either to be Christian. I try to be good and treat everyone with kindness. While I don't force religion on anyone if I feel that someone is receptive to the Lord, I let them know how he can help their life. I just try to do good and really it's all I can do and I hope that I can help where help is needed.

  7. I used to be the complete opposite. VERY opinionated, judgemental, and legalistic. I have since felt the Lord change my heart over the last few years. I try my hardest not to judge, to not be legalistic, or have my "opinions' on what a Christian should be. Thus, I try and live my life in my actions and not always through my words (although I do think there is a place for words too).

  8. hmm... now I'm thinking... this is a topic not really brought up. B/c what you say isn't "acceptable" in Christian circles. I like how you sometimes say things that aren't "acceptable" (you know QUOTE UNQUOTE! not that I don't "accept" them b/c I do!).
    I agree with you overall b/c "your walk talks. your talk talks. but your walk talks louder than your talk talks." So I agree that a person's "walk" is going to be the best "witness" for Christ.
    The Bible also speaks of having an answer ready when someone asks you about the truth that lies within you. So...I try to look for opportunities to speak the gospel... but as the spirit leads, not to jam it down someone's throat who isn't willing or ready for it.
    I don't mind the fact that people go door to door or leaving tracts non-confrontationally b/c I think some people do find Christ that way... so who am I to say that doesn't reach some people. It's not something I tend to do because I feel awkward about it. I do believe that having a RELATIONSHIP with a person is better though b/c when they do come to Christ, they are going to need to grow and learn and then they will already have a supportive friend!

  9. I think we think very much alike. "witnessing" is more a way of life, maybe even a culture of living that I've adopted. When I met a new friend, the first thing I DON'T do is invite them to church. I become a friend, a confidant, and then, some day (sooner than later), I will be ready to invite them to church, and they will be willing to accept.

    Know the term that really makes me cringe? "prayer warrior". Why is that? Actually, I know exactly why, and I should probably post on it some day (or just write a book).

    Anyway, keep up this fab. discussion.
    ~emily

  10. As someone who is a non-believer I am heartened to hear that you are not of what I consider the scary Christian Right. I honestly have no idea what witnessing is.

    I have to admit when I hear the words Christian I am almost immediately turned off. I try really hard to be open minded but from people I know and what I read in the news, the anti-gay, anti woman's rights turns me off completely. I know I am in the minority for those who read your blog and could be bashed for saying these things but it is true.

    1. Michelle,
      I think the unfortunate thing is that there are a few of us who are more in line with your thinking than most realize... But it is the scary Christian Right that is making the headlines. My understanding of Jesus is not what most Christians live out in the day to day. It's really sad that we (and I am including myself here!) are turned off by the word "Christian." There is an old hymn that I LOVE, that says, "they will know we are Christians by our love..." Hmmmm... Makes me wonder, where are the true Christians, because there is a lot of hate out there instead of love.
      Thanks, Stephanie, for bearing witness to what I believe is the true name of Jesus. You love Him and others well. It's a beautiful thing.

      And Happy Thanksgiving to both of you!!

    2. Thanks so much for voicing your honest opinion, Michelle. I'll be surprised if you find any "bashing" happening around here. Most of my readers are full of grace and kindness - as Kristen has evidenced in her comment above.

      1. Thanks to both of you! I want to see more of this type of Christian belief in the media, I think it would make such a difference for our world today. Happy Thanksgiving!

    3. I totally appreciate your comment, Michelle. I am a Christian, and have been for as long as I can remember, but I experience the same frustration with Christians regarding the same matters you brought up. Unfortunately we're still a minority, but there are Christians who don't like that kind of condemning worldview- and we should probably try to be louder, because the people you usually hear spouting "Christian" talk make me cringe!

  11. I try to "stand as a witness of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places" as I strive to live values like faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, virtue, and of course family. I do it not necessarily as a missionary so to speak, but because when I focus on this theme along with these values, I find that I live a better life and end up with a much more service oriented heart. And really, who is Jesus - the epitome of service... When I think of Jesus, I think of the common Savior, Redeemer, Son of God..., but I also think Charity which is the pure love of Christ.

    So, though you may not be looking for someone to toot your horn... your life and your current plans of charity around the country, to me, IS the pure love of Christ! Thanks for your example to us all!

  12. I want to add something I read once about the verse in Matthew that said that we need to be the salt of the earth...

    When we eat salt we become thirsty, our mouth and body long for water, so if we ought to be salt she should by our action and words makes people around us thirsty, bu thirsty for what, thirsty for the living water, Jesus is the living water and we are the salt of the earth...

    Isn't it a beautiful picture of what we are to do, we are part of God's wonderful plan for salvation in people live but the outcome is His :-)

    Thanks you for this post Stephanie, got me thinking a lot today! May I ask if it's no inconvenience , what prompt you to write it? Howe is you RV thing going???

  13. One thing our Church Pastor said when I was young was, "Live What You Say You Believe." This has been my guiding motto for how I share my love for Jesus with others. I am very open about my faith when someone asks, but I would rather show people I am a Christian through actions. My favorite hymn is "And They'll Know We are Christians by Our Love."

    When I think of Jesus, I think of Blessed Savior, Son of God, and Redeemer.

  14. Halleluyah!!!! Someone that actually voices what I have bottled up inside me. I am sick and tired of people judgin me because I dont go to church everyday, say "bless you" after every word or even evangelize. I try to do the right thing, live in God's awesome mercy, appreciate him daily, live a good example. I think we all have different calling. Some of us to teach, live, love, evangelize, etc.

  15. I'm not in the mainstream of Christian Culture.

    I'm more of a grace/faith person.

    I speak in tongues, believe in the power of God, believe the power of God is still active and real, believe we're to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. Believe in signs and wonders following those who are Christians. Have heard God speaking to me, leading me, have had a vision from the Lord... and so on. I have a relationship with Jesus... He's as real to me, more so, than anything else I can see or touch or taste or smell.

    I believe that once you're born again you walk in the fullness of his forgiveness and grace. No sin is too big to be covered by the Lord Jesus. Not murder, not homosexuality, nothing. God hates sin, yes, but not the sinner. And God can use anyone. Look at many of the people in the Bible. They weren't perfect. Murder comes to mind, yet He used them.

    I believe that through faith you can reach out and be healed, or prosper. Because He died on the cross for our sins AND sickness and poverty. He just asks that we trust Him, obey Him, reach out with our "blind" faith.

    Much of what a large portion of the body of Christ believes, or does, or how they act, turns me off. Totally. And there are only a few Christian shows I'll watch, because the preachers teach the grace and faith message.

    We should be walking in love and forgiveness and not condemnation and judgement and anger.

    As you can imagine, it isn't easy to find a group of Christians/a church that live and preach the grace/faith/love message... which such a shame!

    Nell

  16. That is a very interesting topic, like you I don't *do* the in your face, door-to--door, repent or go to hell approach. I read a book call "The insider" I think it's from NavPress but that book I remember reading a story about this couple that invited their neighbor for lunch, and wanted to share about Jesus, the evening did not go as they had plan and they as host had a argument during dinner etc.. So after the guest left they felt like they fail them, but the following week, the neighbor knock on their door asking them if they could go to church with them?!!!

    Why because while they were their guest they witness the hosts having the argument and how they solved it, they have seen Christ trough it and wanted to have the same!!!! Wow that my friend is real witnessing. When your daily life, what you do show Christ trough your actions!

    Indeed we have to use words and not only use actions, but we are also call to be set apart *Holy* from the world, being different working with different standard, will show Christ!

    I also think we need to use example and word when it comes to our kids (to teach them about the Lord) and we are also call to admonish one another, both with words and actions.

    Our life is a testimony for all to see.

    1. What a great story, Renee! It serves as an important reminder that people are watching our lives in good times...and in bad. It's easy to love and forgive and be generous in comfortable situations, but it truly stands out when a person reacts patiently, gently, and with kindness in hard/unpleasant/frustrating situations.

  17. I try hard to be a "witness" of Christ in all things that I do. I want to live my life in a way that shows love, compassion and honesty. I strive to be humble and faithful in all that I do. I do fall short and I know pride gets in my way of being a perfect example/ a perfect Christian. I hope that my "witness" proves to be an example that can touch the lives of those around me. I want to be asked "What makes you who you are because I want to be like you?" and I want my answer to be a solid "Because of my belief in our Savior Jesus Christ".

    The first words that come to mind when I hear "Jesus" is - Savior, Redeemer, Brother, Son of God, Life, Eternal Life, Example, Faith - to name a few.

    Wonderful post.

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