Saturday, May 10, 2008

Reflecting the Love of Christ

Well, I'd like to introduce my first ever guest blogger: my wife, Heidi. Last night, Heidi was asked to speak at our church's mother/daughter banquet. With her permission, I am reproducing her speech here. I hope you will see Heidi's heart for the mission of God and her desire to serve Him in her everyday life. Here is her speech:

Tonight I would like to share a little of my passion for reflecting the love of Christ to others. I believe God has given me a desire deep inside to share his love with both my brothers and sisters in Christ and those who don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

When Sheila asked me to speak I immediately thought , no I can’t do that, I don’t’ speak in front of people. I’m the person who hated speech class in high school and come college looked for a major that didn’t, once again require a speech class. But upon going home and telling my husband Sheila asked me to speak at the Mother/Daughter banquet, he lovingly said, you have to! So tonight I stand here before you a little out of my comfort zone but I pray that some little thing I may share will minister to your heart.

After committing to speak tonight I then began worrying first and then praying, I told God, I need a verse and faithful as He is He gave me one about a week later. I Peter 4:11 says “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves he should do it with the strength God provides so that in ALL things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power forever and ever Amen. “ I found this verse in my journal, I had written it there months before and God brought me right back to. This verse is meant for all of us here tonight. If anyone speaks! I know that I can speak, not always comfortably in front of a large group of woman but I definitely do my share of speaking and I’m sure y’all do as well. When we speak it’s as one speaking the very words of God, wow!!! I find that both a huge responsibility and challenge on our part, we are reflecting something when we speak, is it the love of God? The second part of the verse says , if anyone serves! Do it with the strength God provides - I have to say I like that part, the part that says I don’t do it alone - God provides the strength for us to do the things He calls us to do. In I Thess 5:24 God reminds us that He who calls us is faithful and will also do it. And why do we speak the words of God and serve others? So that in ALL things God may be praised through Jesus Christ and get the glory! So tonight I stand here before you to encourage you to look at your own life and see How you are reflecting Christ’s love to others?

I’d like to briefly share from my own personal experience that no matter how young or how old you are tonight God can and will use all of us if we allow Him to. I will share some examples from my own life. One thing that I have always loved to do when I have time is bake a large batch of Sugar cookies. One day I decided we would put them on plates and deliver them to the neighbors, all the way down the block. This was something my children loved to do, the knocking on the doors part especially, and delivering cookies,. This small task was something that allowed us to get to know our neighbors and begin relationships with them. This past year I mindlessly sent one of my children outside to give some cookies I had just freshly baked to a maintenance man who I saw outside. Months later I ran into this man and God opened a door to talk about spiritual things such as church and a relationship with God, and this man mentioned those cookies! I had completely forgotten about the day I shared those cookies, but he hadn’t. He mentioned that people just don’t do that anymore. God’s love was reflected.

A cookout is also something we have tried to do each year as a family. We invite neighbors again and try to build relationships with them. A baby girl can share the love of Christ when a Senior adult in the store stops to admire and we choose to slow down our pace and just be friendly and visit a moment. My daughter, Ashley, can reflect Christ’s love at school when she chooses a good attitude and chooses to make godly choices even when her friends and teachers don’t understand and give her a hard time. I can reflect Christ’s love by helping out a mom who needs a break, or a family who is struggling. I can reflect God’s love by stopping long enough to really listen to a person who just needs a friend and a listening ear. I can reflect God’s love by praying with that person. On a daily basis God gives us opportunities to share Christ’s love. I came across these words while I was reading a few weeks ago and they spoke to me and I want to also share them and I hope they will challenge you as much as they did me -

“He [Jesus] was fully present with people, whether they were religious leaders or lepers. He responded gently to the inevitable interruptions in life. Do you see interruptions as an opportunity for ministry? Are you mindful and unhurried enough to discern what people really need and whether you can give it to them? Are you humble enough to listen to what is really going on before you tell them how to fix themselves? I sometimes have to admit that my frustration with interruptions is mostly about my desire to be in control. . . .

I’ve found it easier to see interruptions as opportunities to love other people if I can keep my own agenda very short. Not that I ignore my own needs, not at all. But I seriously evaluate everything on the list and make sure it really needs to be done.” *

As I read these paragraphs shared in this book, I thought wow, am I that person, Am I mindful of others, am I unhurried? Not very often, if I’m honest. Am I humble, do I listen? Interruptions in our days are often opportunities to minister God’s love to others. So I challenge you, Choose to make interruptions great opportunities to share Christ! Choose to actively take part in others lives. As much as I’d like to stand before you and say that I always have time for others and I’m always ready and mindful of sharing Christ in every situation it’s not true. I believe we must choose to actively make these choices and remember I Peter 4:11 God provides the strength so that in all things He may be praised. I have had three opportunities in the last year to share Christ with others and I had to pray for courage and choose to do it. So I challenge you to think of maybe just one person, a sister in Christ or someone who comes to your heart that needs the Lord and start praying for them. God will open doors and I stand here before you tonight as an example of Yes, with God’s strength and through Him we can step out of our comfort zones, we can speak and we can serve and God will get all the glory. If you are here tonight and don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, it is easy and I just know that someone near you would be thrilled to share Jesus with you so I pray that you will not leave here tonight without finding Christ’s love, because He truly loves us and gave His life for us. Thank you!

* Keri Wyatt Kent, quoted by Tina Cole and Nocona Koenig, “Never Enough Time” in My Husband Wants to be a Church Planter . . . , (Alpharetta, GA: North American Mission Board, 2007), 69.

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