THE MOST FERTILE TIME

THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

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CAN ALSO BE THE MOST FERTILE TIME OF THE YEAR

FOR SPIRITUAL BEGINNINGS.

IF YOU HAVE MISSED THIS, CONSIDER SEIZING THE SEASON THIS YEAR.

NOW IS THE TIME TO PLAN.

YESTERDAY THIS WAS MY LITTLE VILLAGE,

BUT SHE WILL SOON BE CLOTHED IN WHITE.

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YESTERDAY I WALKED THE TRAILS OF FALLING LEAVES WITH

MY GRAND-DAUGHTERS

mesadieclairefall2016BUT SOON WE WILL BE CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING THESE TRAILS.

NOW IS THE TIME TO GET READY TO SEIZE THE MOST FERTILE TIME OF THE YEAR

AFTER THIS POLITICAL SEASON, PEOPLE MAY BE

ESPECIALLY HUNGRY FOR HOPE.

MANY PEOPLE WHO WOULD SHUN AN INVITE TO A GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE

WILL GLADLY COME TO YOUR HOME FOR A CHRISTMAS TEA.

WOULD YOU PRAY NOW ABOUT HOSTING A TEA IN YOUR HOME?

YOU MIGHT PARTNER WITH A SISTER IN CHRIST.

THEN INVITE THOSE TO WHOM GOD HAS OPENED YOUR EYES AND SHARE A COMMON BOND:

NEIGHBORS, CO-WORKERS, MOTHERS, YOUR TENNIS TEAM…

BLESS THEM WITH

CANDLES AND AMBIANCE;

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COOKIES AND TEA;

2801398-tea-for-christmas-with-sweet-cookies-with-candles-in-golden-toneAND CONVERSATION TO REACH THEIR HEARTS

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I WOULD GIVE THEM ONE OR TWO QUESTIONS AHEAD OF TIME IN YOUR INVITATION:

I’d love for us to have meaningful conversation,

and to get to know each other. So, think about:

1. A childhood memory that helped shape who you are today

2. A trial or obstacle you faced at Christmas or another time that helped you grow.

THEN POSSIBLY, INVITE A FRIEND TO SHARE A BRIEF TESTIMONY OF HOW SHE CAME TO KNOW THE CHRIST OF CHRISTMAS

AND THE DIFFERENCE HE HAS MADE.

CLOSE WITH ONE VERSE OF “O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL” 

THIS MIGHT ALSO BE AN OPPORTUNE TIME TO KICK OFF A SEEKER STUDY FOR JANUARY.

The three I know of that I have found tried and true are:

seekerstudiesA “Seeker Study” is especially designed for non-Christians.

Short! (five to seven lessons)

Simple! Inductive questions from a Gospel designed to help them discover the real Jesus.

Rebecca Pippert has two — the one above on the left is from Luke,

and the one above on the right from John.

Mine is in the middle — from John, with the text from John included:

5 lessons from first 5 chapters of John

2 optional lessons from Romans and 1 Peter clarifying the gospel.

Watch this from Pippert, on seeker studies & how to invite!

Consider forwarding this to friends or putting it on your facebook — wouldn’t it be wonderful if it spawned many Christmas evangelistic teas?

Sunday:

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

Monday-Friday: Praying, Planning, Practicing

This week will be a little different in that I would like to lead you in praying and then preparing and planning for this Christmas season. Whether or not God leads you to host a Christmas tea or launch a Seeker Study, we all need to be “ready to give an answer for the hope within us.” (1 Peter 3:15) And I want to help you get ready. Each of us should be able to give a testimony in a just a few sentences for those on the spot conversations.

Praying
2. Ask, as James tells us to do, for wisdom for this coming Christmas. Be still before Him every morning this week and share anything He places on your heart.

Planning

3. What counsel does Ephesians 5:15-17 give us and why?

4. Read Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

A. What are we told to do in verses 1-2 and why? How could this apply to you?

B. What stops people, according to verse 4, from sowing their seed? What does this mean in regard to evangelism for you?

C. What are we told to do in verse 6?

5. Has the Lord laid on your heart a plan for this Christmas? If so, share!

Practicing

Every believer should be prepared with a short testimony that glorifies Christ and shows how Christ rescued him.

6. What short testimony is given in John 9:25?

7. Here is my one minute testimony — yours will be different but it should give glory to Christ, show His power, and cause others to at least want to investigate His claims.

When I was a young mother, my sister came and followed me around the apartment with a Bible asking me questions about Jesus: who He was, why He came…  I wanted her to go home, but a blizzard prevented that. She told me Jesus claimed to be God, that He died to pay for my sin, and rose again — and wanted my whole life.

I didn’t want to give Him my whole life, but I thought: If He really is God and I ignore Him, I could be in trouble. I should at least find out. I read the gospel of John and a book called Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis that made me 95% convinced Jesus was God.

I gave my life reluctantly to Christ because I believed Christianity was true. But then! I was shocked at the joy that overwhelmed me, and the changes He brought in my heart. I didn’t need any more proof. Have you ever investigated the claims of Jesus from the primary source?

8. Prepare your one minute testimony and share it here. (Let’s give each other encouragement and helpful criticism! Include me in that!)

 

Saturday:

9. What is your take-a-way and why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMENTS (95) Post a New Comment ↓
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1. What stands out to you from the above and why? 
 
First thought? Uh-oh….I’m in trouble! You ask why? Well, I planned the tea; I called it a fall tea on the invite.  I gave out the invitations already to some non-believers but mostly believers.  It’s planned for November 5 from 3 to 5 and I touted it as just getting together for fellowship and treats;  a time for relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.  I never considered any more pointed conversation than that!  Whoops…
 
 I don’t want it to seem as if I’m  being manipulative getting people here and then having conversations about Jesus, without warning them.  I don’t have a problem with the questions though, and I’ve also decided to ask them not to talk about politics, myself included!  Since I wanted this to be a relaxing time for the ladies, that would just stress everyone out.  So I guess my question would be what do I do?  Ask the questions above, and include the question “where do you find hope in this stressful world?” That’s a pretty deep question for sure.  I know a couple of the ladies I invited are totally agnostic/atheist.  They may be pretty hard to break.  And, I haven’t informed my believers of what’s going on, so if I asked that last question they all talk about God right? 
 
 Maybe this should just be my first tea!  A practice for me? Then, if the relationships develop we can move it forward and I could do a spring (Easter) tea as well with the same people? I guess I need help! SOS! I only have 2 weeks ?.
 

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    LAURA!–blown away by you! Praying for Nov. 5th!

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    Laura, I just think it is wonderful you are doing it, period.  Just opening up your home, being hospitable, God will bless!  Even that simple act itself (hospitality) is a seed!  So excited to find out what will happen next!  It’s like reading a book you can’t put down! :D

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    You go, girl. Laura, I absolutely am so pumped by your eager obedience in having the Tea. My advice to you is have that tea in whatever way you feel led for your group of women;  just keep building relationships and listen to God’s whisper for how to reach their hearts.  

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    Laura, what an encouragement you are to us! I have been struggling on how to approach this suggestion of Christmas tea. I was so stuck with that t time frame and your idea of a November tea was just like “Duh, Bing, it could be another time of the year really!” Hahaha. Praying for a wonderful time with your invitees and the Lord to prepare all hearts involved.

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    Laura, don’t be discouraged – we are all proud of you! You have made a plan, sent the invitations, and the women will come! I know you will be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading, and who knows??? They will appreciate your hospitality and the fellowship.

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    Yay Laura!!!!! :) :) :) :)  I agree with everyone here. Just go with His Wind!! :))  

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Laura — how exciting. No — you are doing everything. You are building relationships. I think you could still e-mail them questions to get to know each other without introducing spiritual things at all. You are building relationships — that is what it is all about. I’M SO PROUD OF YOU11

IN FACT, THIS WHOLE BLOG GROUP IS WONDERFUL — HAVING MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS, BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS — IT IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT. MOVING WITH THE SPIRIT INSTEAD OF A CANNED APPROACH!

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Laura I echo Dee  you are doing everything!!! I believe the Lord will bless your efforts! Rest in Him, pray and love on these friends.  You are setting an example for all of us! 
Lord thank you for Laura and thank you for her teachable spirit and desire to share You with others. Prepare the hearts of the woman who will be there and we pray the winds of Your Holy Spirit blow. Give Laura more joy than she has ever had before as she steps out in faith and follows Your example. Keep her mind focused on You and protect any negative thoughts of the evil one. In Jesus name I pray.

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    AMEN AND AMEN!

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    YES!!!

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
SO LOVE the picture of you with Sadie and Claire. 

I enjoyed the Rebecca Pippert clip. Her key points about how and why seeker studies work—it is the beauty of Jesus, the power of the word of God, rooted in relationship, and clothed with prayer. I liked how she stressed the power of God’s word to draw seekers in to Jesus. 

I was struck too by you saying this is a “fertile” time of year. I think so often I see this time of year as also heightening my awareness of people who are hurting, lonely—and it strikes me that that IS a soil that is ready for tending, hungry, aware of their need for something, Someone, greater.
 

    Reply

    So good Lizzy — that is another reason it is such a fertile time!

    Liked your points from Pippert too.

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1.  What stands out to me is that I had NO IDEA you ALREADY have a seeker Bible study out!!!  I DEFINITELY need to get one or all of these as a tool.  I have always wondered why no one makes Bible studies geared toward non-Christians and now I know some people do! :D

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    :-)

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    Mary-I agree! And Dee’s Examining study is amazing..We have plenty in stock.  ;-) You can find it on this website’s store section. 

      Reply

      Thanks Rebecca! :D

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1.  What stood out?  Years ago, someone was willing to put together the whole seeker study if I would come and teach.  I was stressed out at work, it was winter, and it would be 45min away at night.  I said no, and today I deeply regret having done that.
 
Laura, you go for it, girl!  We are praying for you and with you!!

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    Mary — I have many regrets about missed opportunities — yet covered in the blood. I do think we can learn from our regrets and seize fresh opportunities, as I see you doing.

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why? I’m going to be honest, I know that I’m not going to have any kind of get together. I am making strides just to look people in the eye and carry on a “normal” conversation with strangers. That said, my pastor is starting to do this whole “we need to love (care for, support, get to know) one another in this building that we call a church”. I cringe when I anticipate the let’s walk around and greet each other, group off and pray, etc. It took 10 years for me to be comfortable doing these kinds of things with the people in my last church. I know that God is taking me to this area of discomfort for a reason and I’m not going to run away. Hopefully I will be able to share some encouraging things that God is doing in my life in this area.
Also I have been relishing for the past few weeks how Rebecca Pippert has never failed to emphasize that our interest in others be genuine, not a “project’ to do then move on. I have to remind myself that Jesus truly cared about those that He sought out. Right now everyone of those people in the bible (that Jesus sought out) are in heaven and will spend eternity with us and Him. Anyone that I encounter is an opportunity for Jesus to use me as a vessel to reach others.

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    Dawn–this caught my heart in your post “I know that God is taking me to this area of discomfort for a reason and I’m not going to run away.”–so much wisdom, teach-able-ness, humility in those words. I need to have that demeanor in many areas of my life too.

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      Now I see your post, Lizzy. Same Spirit says same thing.

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    Dawn — I’ve seen great growth in you! Keep on in that long obedience in the same direction.

    I love this from you:  I know that God is taking me to this area of discomfort for a reason and I’m not going to run away.

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I love you ladies!  Dee, this is such a refreshing and encouraging blog today!  Thank you so much for your heart for others.  I was so blessed by the photo of you and your grand daughters walking among the beautiful fall leaves, and tears fill my eyes just thinking of how sweet God is to you in spite of the deep pain you have experienced in your life. 

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    Oh Miriam thank you — and it is true, He has been so good to me. Never did I think I would make it to this point, but He has been so faithful.

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Sunday:
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Love the quiet, serene picture of your neighborhood, Dee and that of you with your grandchildren.
I appreciate the short video of Becky Pippert and Carl. She is giving me the courage I need to PRAY, to be alert for conversation springboards and to TRUST the power of God to speak to the hearts of those I encounter. Thank you for the resources that you have shared.

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    Thanks, Bing. I feel we are all growing!

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3. What counsel does Ephesians 5:15-17 give us and why?
We need to be alert, and be wise. We need to know God’s Word and live according to it, in the midst of a world that has disowned Him. Do not waste my time—but make the most of every opportunity, because our time here is short.
4. Read Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 A. What are we told to do in verses 1-2 and why? How could this apply to you?
Give generously to others. I also think it’s telling me not to have as my goal comfort here on this earth. Instead of trying to save up for a more “comfortable” life here, give generously to those in need, acknowledging that this is not my real Home, it’s only a tent.
B. What stops people, according to verse 4, from sowing their seed? What does this mean in regard to evangelism for you?
“He who observes the wind”—makes me think of dwelling on the “what ifs”. When we start fearing what may happen, we tend to cling to our “stuff”. I think there is a natural instinct to try to cover ourselves when we are afraid. If we are fearful of what may happen in the world, or even in our personal life, we tend to hold tightly to whatever comfort we have tried to build here. I also think this applies to sharing the Gospel. When we try to discern how useful or profitable our giving, our sharing of things, or of the Gospel may be—we can tend to discourage ourselves. Instead, I need to walk in faith, not by sight, remembering He owns all, and He protects my true Home, “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4).
C. What are we told to do in verse 6?
I need to not be lazy! I have the Source of Life to share! Get up in the morning and sow seed—do what I am called to do, and be faithful, diligent, hopeful. Expect the Lord to work.
 

    Reply

    Beautiful. And good insight on money!

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1.  What stands out to you and why?  the two possible questions to ask people to consider.  In particular, the one about trials at Christmas hit hard as I realized that my Christmas season has been affected by my job for so many years.  Final grades usually are due right before Christmas, and the massive grading often has made it a nuts season. And then I’m getting ready for the next semester.   The only decorations I have up are those those that can stay up year ’round.  I did have a Christmas tree up when my mom lived with me (she bought one for me the first year she was with me because mine wasn’t full-sized!), and I still have the small one I decorated for her when she was in assisted living.  But, usually, buying and wrapping gifts is about all I can handle.  I’m excited to think about when my life won’t be as determined by semesters, but also I am somewhat appalled by now. I’m often gone almost a week in mid-November and am entering the crazy season now.  Very aware of my need to call upon the Lord.
 
2. Praying:  the Lord is impressing on me the number of people I know whose schedules are similar to mine: some have decided not to decorate for Christmas; others worry about it.  So, will pray for creativeness in addressing these challenges.

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    That is such a challenge for prof’s! And I’m sure pastors too.

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
 
All of the above sounds so warm, inviting, and wonderful….a Christmas Tea. But I also know it is unlikely that I will have one. I wouldn’t know who to invite. My co-workers, believe it or not, are all believers. I’m not on a tennis team or in an exercise group. The couple of neighbors I know fairly well are also believers. The people I spend most of my time with are my husband, daughter, and aging parents. To be honest, I feel pretty useless in the kingdom of God.
 
3. What counsel does Ephesians 5:15-17 give us and why?
 
We are to be careful in how we live, not living foolishly but wisely. We are to make the most of every opportunity because we live in evil times. We are not to act thoughtlessly but with understanding as to what God wants us to do.

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    Oh Susan — you are anything but useless. You encourage us here, and I know you are an encouragement to the people in your path. I think your parents are still in their own home? How blessed you are to have neighbors and co-workers who are believers. I wonder if any of them have friends who are unbelievers?

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    Susan, you are not “useless” at all! Your gentle spirit touches all of us here and I’m sure in your home and workplace as well. I wonder if you might see if your daughters friends would like to being their moms to your tea? I have a couple of la bringing their daughters who are younger. I forget how old your daughter is though? Is she in high school yet? It seems like you two are fairly close so it may jot matter her age? What about asking neighbors whom you don’t know very well hit would like to know better? Just some ideas. Your sweet spirit calms the storms of the night and people definitely could use some of that these days! Love and hugs (( )).

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3. What counsel does Ephesians 5:15-17 give us and why?
After readingLook carefully then how you walk,” I read the previous verses, too.  Counsel:  Walk as children of light (what is good, and right, and true), be wise. Make the best use of time, for good things not for foolish things

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4. Read Ecclesiastes 11:1-6
 
A. What are we told to do in verses 1-2 and why? How could this apply to you?
 
One translations puts it this way: “Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later….” and verse 2 says to divide your investments among many places (don’t put all your eggs in one basket?) because you don’t know what future risks there will be.
Giving generously is not only money, but my time, talents/gifts, energy. Sometimes it is a listening ear, or hands that are willing to do work, like cleaning or making a meal. It is living not just for myself, but for others that will bring the greatest rewards.
 
B. What stops people, according to verse 4, from sowing their seed? What does this mean in regard to evangelism for you?
 
Waiting for everything to be “perfect”. That could mean that I’m waiting until I get my house in perfect order (which never happens), until my schedule isn’t full, These verses describe a farmer waiting for perfect weather – but he never plants, and watching every cloud – and he never harvests. It could personally mean waiting until I have myself all together, but that’s just pride because I am truthfully a mess and God will have to use me as I am, imperfections, fears, issues, anxieties, and all.
 
C. What are we told to do in verse 6?
 
Again he uses the farmer illustration: “Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another, or maybe both.” I would say, “Keep moving forward”. Do your thing, and leave the results to God. Don’t wait around to see if anything “happens” or not or let that determine if you’ll try taking a next step.

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Good!

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3. What counsel does Ephesians 5:15-17 give us and why?
 
We we are to walk wisely and not waste time because the end is near. We should understand what it is that God advises.

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3. What counsel does Ephesians 5:15-17 give us and why?
Because the days are evil-our enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy. The opportunities are ever before me so I need to be discerning of the enemy’s ploys to steal my sense of peace, kill my hope and destroy my vision. Today, I feel prompted to bite my tongue instead of letting my anger take rein as my frustration rose with some of my students. Granted it is Monday but I sure get tired of students who are just there and hardly make effort to do their work. The restraining hand of the Spirit was evident and He is helping me deal right now with my frustrations and giving me guidance on how to know the Lord’s will in regard to this specific  area of classroom discipline/management. I am not sure any of my students are Christians-very sad to say. Lord, help me!

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So it finally happened; a “deer in the headlights” moment for me….probably because it was not led by the Holy Spirit!
 
I was finishing listening to a panel discussion of how we, as Christians, might want to “entertain” this political season, as we, different as we are, might want to engage in civil discourse about the election, and was, shall I say, “pumped up” about the ideas presented. I stopped a woman in my hall to let her know to check it out on my FB page; she might be interested. Sometimes I forget I am in the NE now and not still living in the Bible Belt! Not everyone is Christian or goes to church here. I tell her a little bit about the post, and then asked her if she went to church (I can’t remember if I said do you go to church or do you believe in God, or are you  a Christian?). She said she used to go to church (Catholic), but, “you know my youngest son is gay” (I did not know that), so “I can’t possibly go there anymore.” I didn’t really know what to say (deer part), so I stumbled over the next few sentences…I said something about religion vs knowing Jesus, who is love. She agreed with me.  I think I recovered, but here we go again….did I leave her to believe that I think it’s okay to be gay? Is that being true to myself and my God? I didn’t feel very good after the conversation. It’s funny. Several people I know that have children who say they are transgender/gay don’t seem to think you can love your children and not agree with them on the issue; that you have a choice.  I don’t think I will ever acknowledge that my kid thinks he is gay, but I do love him very much. Anyway, I don’t think all was lost in the conversation, but I’m not sure I felt too good afterwards. Better the Holy Spirit lead me instead of me leading me!!
 
 

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    Laura–I think if you were a deer, it was a gentle, Spirit filled one. What struck me reading this is what you did NOT say (in a good way). I think that is what she will walk away with and that is key. You did not “blast” her with a sermon about her son’s choices…you engaged in conversation with her–you spoke of Jesus vs. religion and that is huge! I’m praying for more open doors with this woman–but I think you did awesome! You just keep inspiring me ;)

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    I so agree with Lizzy, Laura. So good what you did not say. And it is the difference between religion and the gospel — I think she would love a listening (completely listening and talking back) about her pain. Proud of you.

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    Laura.……my experience in similar situations tells me that you should not feel that you need to state what you believe about someone being gay.  You just need to show love.  I used to feel that if I didn’t ‘fly the flag of my convictions’ when I had conversations, I had failed the Lord.  Not true.  His Word tells us again and again and again….that the greatest is love and everything else is a clanging gong….(I Cor. 13)  if it is not said and done in love anyway!   We have a similar situation with my husband’s closest colleague…..only it is much more messy.   He just shows love. And has reached out to help this family in practical ways.   They (his colleague and her wife and transgender son) will only be open to his words, because they know he cares.    I always think of that phrase:  
    “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”    That one really nails it.  

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4. Read Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 
A. What are we told to do in verses 1-2 and why? How could this apply to you? 
 
We are told to “cast our bread upon the waters;” to scatter it around. I think this means we are to speak the Word to others? This remind me of that old saying, “even a blind pig can find a nut every so often…” Lol! You never know who may be listening to your words nor do you know what trials people are going through. I should talk to anyone and everyone!
 
B. What stops people, according to verse 4, from sowing their seed? What does this mean in regard to evangelism for you? 
 
I think this means that paying too close attention to our own needs distracts us from telling others about God and their need for salvation. I should stay focused on others at all times.
 
C. What are we told to do in verse 6?
 
It says to sow your seed in the morning and withhold it at night because you never know which way will work best. I guess that means be aware of the people with whom you are evangelizing and respectful of their circumstances? Maybe it is trying to suggest we become friends first (the night time non-sowing) with some people, and with others we can sow directly (the day time sowing)?
 

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6. What short testimony is given in John 9:25?
 
The man says that he was once blind but now he sees. He explains that he doesn’t know much about Jesus (whether he is a sinner or not), just that he was healed. 

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I’m eager to see your one minute testimonies. You may have a Timothy testimony where you trusted Christ as a child — can explain the gospel — but can also share what Christ means to you today.

 

Or you may have a Paul testimony — coming as an adult — where before and after are more dramatic.

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    I feel like, because mine is a “Timothy” testimony, it’s not so great.  I have actually been considering using yours! ;)  (except I have to leave out the part about being a young mom..and I don’t have any sisters…probably need to rethink this.)

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      Oh Mary — Timothy testimonies can be great. My son came to Christ at 5 and led my 93 year old mother to the Lord through his Timothy testimony. It is a chance to make the gospel very clear — as you would for a child.

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6. What short testimony is given in John 9:25?
 
I love this; the man who was blind does not let the Pharisees drag him into a debate or an argument about Jesus. He says, “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” I have heard it said that people cannot argue with you about your own personal story.

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    YES!

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Just really love all the posts and I am asking God what would he have me do. I find a formal tea just way too much for me and yet I am so impressed with the pictures and questions. I am happy, Laura, that you are jumping in soon with your tea.
I am really trying to be alert to others and to be wise. When I would usually sit quietly waiting for a medical appointment, I spoke to another woman who was also waiting. Sharing a bit about myself I asked her what she does. Well she said, I own a shop with my daughter. Asking what type of shop she answered, a sensuality shop. Well, there I was, and somewhat overwhelmed by this thought. The next comment I made was, Oh, and are there many clients in this town-it is known for its gay population. Then she said, Well, we serve many college women, let them feel it is a safe place. I could see that this was going into a dark place. But I continued to listen. How come these openings just show us what a dark world we live in?
Engaging in conversations seems to be a lot more difficult, but I am opening my eyes to others. I will pray for this woman, but it was a dead end.
I do go to an exercise class, and am trying to get acquainted with some of these women. I am praying for one, and hope there will be an opportunity to engage her in a conversation.
 

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    Oh Shirley! I’m so sorry you had to endure that conversation! How uncomfortable it must have been. I’m not sure how I would have handled that one. Maybe asked where she was from and made “small talk.” Don’t give up! Just the fact that you tried chatting with a stranger is something to be proud of; everyone needs kindness, right?

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    Love this story. Never a dead end for now she has a praying friend.

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    Thanks for this Shirley and I agree with Dee never a dead end. You never know the Lord may give you another encounter. with this same woman. One thing I sure do notice is how He is the great orchestrator. It may be you again in this woman’s life or it may be someone else or many others in her life one never knows. You took the time to talk to her. That is HUGE. Prayer is key:)

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3. What counsel does Ephesians 5:15-17 give us and why? Basically to make the most of our time, use it wisely, for eternal purposes
4. Read Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 
A. What are we told to do in verses 1-2 and why? How could this apply to you? Ha!  I have to admit that I have never fully understood these verses and have really never thought of them with regard to evangelizing.  I always thought of them as giving to others and the Lord (not just financially, but in many ways, time, gifts, etc…) and it will return to you in some way.  However, in thinking of it with regard to evangelism, I guess sharing with others everywhere, as you go along in life, casting it out there.  
B. What stops people, according to verse 4, from sowing their seed? What does this mean in regard to evangelism for you? After reading this verse in the NASB I then read it in the Living translation (paraphrase) to gain some insight.  It says, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” (Nice and blunt!)  Sometimes that version does help me to understand the meaning dead on!  That has often been my approach for sharing my faith, “waiting for perfect conditions.”  I so desperately need the Holy Spirit to give me insight into when to just jump in there and speak up, rather than waiting for some perfect scenario.
C. What are we told to do in verse 6?  Be diligently sewing at all times, since we don’t know which will reap a harvest…it may all. 
 

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    Love the Living Translation on that!

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2.  PRAY consistently this week for what God places on my heart concerning evangelism over the coming holiday season… I was pretty sure nothing would come of this, but God planted in my mind to ask the women in my small group if they would like to go together to have a tea.  So tomorrow night when we meet, I will ask them.
 
3.  Eph 5- the council is to be very careful how you live.  Sunday in church, it was mentioned several times about living intentionally.  So my explanation for this section is that recognizing the nearness of Christ’s return, we should be intentional in looking for every opportunity with great eagerness and readiness.  Can’t say that I am doing well at this three days lafter, but it at least breaks through to my conscienceness, which is more than had been happening.
 
 

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    Mary B — what small group is this?

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      It is a mixed group from my church.  We meet every other week to be in the word, fellowship and pray.  If all the women say they are in, there will be six of us.  

        Are you thinking some might not know the Lord? Or perhaps you just want to have a tea to get closer or discuss having an outreach tea?

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Well, my testimony is a Timothy testimony, and I had a Christian mother and grandmother who did guide me.
I sought the love of Jesus when I was a child. He loved me first and I knew that, memorizing John 3:16.
As an older teen, however, I walked away and was on the wrong path. I was mentored by a Christian nurse co-worker who cared for me
and invited me to church. I knew I needed to turn back to my first love, Jesus. I am so happy to know what he did for me. My life is now joy-filled even when challenges come.

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    love this Shirley!

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    Thanks, Shirley. You are the first to try and I’m so thankful. Yours is a Timothy/Paul testimony — which is common for Timothy’s. Knew the Lord, but walked away, and God brought you back. I’ve decided to give better help in preparing testimonies next week — I’d love for you to take this good beginning and work with it next week under my Timothy?Paul guidelines — I thank you so much for being the first to dare — so let’s go from here!

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      thanks, Dee, and it will be good to build on this beginning…
      Following Jesus is a journey and I want to reach out to others to encourage them to know Jesus and grow!

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4A.  We are told to send out “bread”- who better than the Living Bread? – freely, indiscriminately, not knowing how it will turn out.  I hold on to the truth much too tightly.  I need to be more free to let it flow.
B.  It says that paying too much attention to current circumstances, procrastinating, or even just over thinking will keep you from sowing.  This points out to me that I have a tendency to let my thoughts and fears make me hesitate, and then the moment is gone.  I need to be snatching the window of opportunity.

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    Living bread — love it!

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      you asked earlier about my small group.  My husband and I lead it, 9 people total.  All are believers.  Two women said they are interested in helping me do a Christmas tea, where each of us would invite.  Mostly just to help each one build relationships with non believers.

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8. Prepare your one minute testimony and share it here (and I WELCOME criticism!!)
I loved that Shirley mentioned her grandmother. My Mimi had such an incredible impact in my life–she taught me unconditional love, and the power of prayer. And John 3:16 was actually the first verse I ever memorized–but here’s a funny story why…I grew up Catholic and my grandmother gave me my own holy water vase stuck on a plaque that hung by the door of my bedroom…imprinted on the plaque were the words of John 3:16, and I read it every night as I lay in bed. 
 
Now, on to my testimony!
I don’t remember a time of ever not believing in Jesus, His power, and His love for me. He made Himself known to me at a very young age. Yet, it wasn’t until my college years that I really began to grasp that my ‘goodness’ was not earning me any ‘points’ towards salvation.  I realized God does not use a points system, only grace saves, and  I began to see the wretched ugliness of my pride. He broke me, and began to re-make me. He gave me a hunger for His Word, eyes to see others without the lens of judgment, and He continues to work in me, graciously refining my messy heart. I am still the 5 year old girl who talked to Him every night in my bed, but with the awareness of my deep need of His cleansing and the price He paid, for me, my love for Him, my desire to be near Him, continues to grow.
 

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    Lizzy, here is another kindred story between us!!!! “I don’t remember a time of ever not believing in Jesus…” That is me, too! 

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    Lizzy — thank you so much. You model how to explain the gospel while presenting your testimony — and like most Timothy’s, show God’s love for a child but also the growth and the “slow and widening light.” 

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    Lizzy, such a sweet, heart warming story! I also don’t ever remember not believing in God. He has always been a part of my life. I didn’t understand that you didn’t have to do good things to be with Him. Grace, Grace….God’s grace. ?

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8. My one minute testimony:
 
About 10 years ago I was struggling with my two middle children acting out as teenagers. My husband and I were at our “wits end.” I was teaching at the local high school where they attended, and daily I wondered how they would humiliate me with their actions. The older one, my son, tended to mouth off, whereas the younger one, my daughter, got in fights with other girls. Both of them would disappear after school, so it was hard to keep up with them. Sometimes the police would be involved, and although I normally love police officers (the males in my husbands family are all cops) our town’s force tended to escalate the normal situations (kind of like a power trip). To this day I don’t care for the force as a whole because of those incidents with my children.
 
I know I have told this story before, so pardon if you have read it prior to this posting.
 
At the end of one summer our son disappeared for a week. We were so distraught, as this had never happened before to this extent. When he finally came home, we decided the best action was to put him under “house arrest” so he couldn’t  leave again . We went to the court and asked the judge to help us out. We had had many incidents up to this point with him “running away,” so we were given the go ahead by the judge. The time frame was 6 months. He was not allowed to  leave our house without one of us with him. He did pretty well and by the last week we allowed him to go with an older friend (18) to an outdoor concert. He knew he needed to stay out of trouble but someone ended up “harassing” him at the concert and, of course, he mouthed off at them, and they (an adult who was 21 at the time – he was 17) punched him in the face. His teeth were hanging down out of the gums and he was rushed to the hospital. 
 
My husband and I realized that he needed to stay on house arrest to keep him out of trouble because he obviously couldn’t handle himself, but he judge felt otherwise. We were also scared that since he was technically an adult that he would drop out of school and we would never see him again. During this time I was not in my right mind because holding it all together was so difficult. I remember actually yelling at the social worker and accusing him of not actually having any common sense. It was a low point in my life for sure.
 
About this time, a young colleague suggested I listen to Nancy Leigh Demoss podcasts. I had never listened to any Christian material before. I have always been a believer, but I never really knew Jesus. We always attended church with our children and participated in weekly activities. At this point in my life, I could have probably killed myself to end the pain, except that I’m a wimp. I was miserable inside and really had no where to go. Nothing we did helped the situation. Meanwhile, I started listening to NLD, and don’t you know, the first thing she said seemed to be pointed directly at me?! She said, “is there something you need to let go of? Is there something that you are holding tightly on to that is driving you crazy?” She suggested that I let go and give the situation to Christ. I was truly at the lowest point in my life and needed something or someone to guide me through. I decided to do “it;” to let Christ handle my sons situation and to fully let go. Oh my gosh! The freedom! It was such a good feeling! I was done! He would take over and my son would not have that awful control over me again. Whew! A weight was lifted.
 
It hasn’t always been perfect since I gave up, but our son is not dead/estranged/homeless, etc. He ended up going to culinary school and he is a wonderful chef. He is 26 now, and happy (I think). He still struggles with some emotional things, and I pray that God helps him with this often. We ended up placing charges in the 21 year old who hit him, and it was my desire to see him have to pay for our son to have his teeth fixed. That was about $6,000. The guy had his wages garnished for a few years and our son had his teeth fixed. 
 
It it had been a very hard road with my two middle children, but I have learned that God is the only one who can help me through these times. I am so thankful that I have Him to help me through. I can’t imagine not having Him. Who would I lean on then?

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    oh Laura–thank you for sharing your powerful story again here–it is SO encouraging to see how the Lord carried you…leading you to hear Him through a NLD podcast that spoke right to you where you were, and at just the timing when He knew you could hear it! I’m always amazed at how He orchestrates..giving you just the truth you needed for freedom, and trusting Him with your mess. I love how He led you from hearing this: “is there something you need to let go of?” to saying this: “I can’t imagine not having Him”.

    Wanted to add–I think it’s good too how you point out having grown up in a Christian home, but not really knowing Jesus yet

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    Laura — thank you so much. I am going to use some of this on the blog next week.

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    Laura, thank you so much for sharing. I understand the dilemma of trying to control the difficult situations in our families. In my career I had to guide people/ advise them how to care for themselves, and I needed to manage everyone. Yet I couldn’t!
    What a relief to turn it over to God, who is all-knowing, and works things out in His ways.
    So happy that someone cared and pointed you in the right directionl

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      Yes Shirley! In fact, the woman who turned me to NLD is about 10 years younger than I. I respect her immensely. She and her husband are missionaries off the coast of Madagascar. We still keep in touch and I pray for her often ?. She saved my life!

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    Laura, thank you for sharing your testimony here. I have not heard of it before. Indeed, the ministry of others (for you, NLD) is a powerful tool God uses to reach us and to show us His unconditional love.

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    Laura, you let go of your son and clung instead to Christ!  Beautiful testimony!

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My one minute testimony. I grew up going to church. I had a knowledge of God but to be honest other than Christmas really never talked of the name of Jesus. I never read my Bible and never had a Bible until my confirmation but still never read it. I walked away from the church when I was 18 and went thru what I call my “dark ages” Searching for love in all the wrong places. When I was getting married I got back into a church as I wanted to be married in a church. My husband went with me only for that period of time. We had children and I went to church out of duty to introduce our children to God. I was even teaching Sunday school which amazes me just having a head knowledge of God. I got involved in a company that believed in putting God first in your life family second and career third. A concept that sounded good to me.  At the age of 33 my Mary Kay director gave me a Business Woman’s devotional which I totally loved  and at the end was a read thru the Bible reading plan. I went to my shelf and got the Bible I had, and started to read. At the same time other things were being orchestrated in my life with friends who were Christians, a Pastors wife who was a recruit of mine invited me to a youth service her son was in and though I felt I had already been at church that morning I loved my friend and felt a tug on my heart to go. The first song that they sang was El Shaddai. I began to weep and did not stop thru the entire service. It was there that the God that I had known only in my head went to my heart. The Word I was reading was coming alive and the changes began. I have never looked back since. Many of the sins in my life became evident immediately. The comfort I found in the bottle was replaced by the comfort of my Savior. The empty void that was in my heart even being married was filled with Jesus. I weep even now as I am so grateful for this testimony. My life journey is to have more of Him and less of Me. I KNOW what He did for me He can do for others. I have not been given this gift to be kept only to myself. It is the most precious gift you will ever receive. 
Here is the song.
https://youtu.be/aFfXKJIXeJI
   

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    Liz, what a moving story! He took you and filled you. Isn’t that a glorious feeling?

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Liz, I love this song and your testimony is beautiful. Reading the Word does bring the gospel alive! It is a blessing that God brings people into our work area to model and to teach us so gently and persistently.

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8.  I know I have already shared my testimony on this blog at least once (possibly twice) so, like Laura said, sorry if this is a repeat for you! I was raised in a Christian home, attending church basically every time the door was open.  As others have mentioned, I don’t recall a time I didn’t know about or believe in Jesus.  However, when I was 5 I kept asking my mom to read to me from our Children’s Bible, the story of the creation and fall of man.  When she got to the part about Adam and Eve sinning I would say, “Why didn’t they die???  God said, “In the day you eat of it, you will surely die.”  My mom would say something to this effect, “Well, they did die, they died on the inside, their souls died.” (Spirits, really, but close mom!)  “and their bodies began to die.”  This seemed like such a severe punishment to me, for first time violators (I was very into second chances!) so I would then say, “But why didn’t God give them a second chance!!!!????” (I was pretty distressed about this!)  To which mom replied, “Well, He did give them a second chance, really the only chance, the same one for all of us.  God knew we would all disobey Him (sin) so He sent His son, Jesus, to take our punishment for us.  If we accept Jesus’s death on the cross as the payment for our sin, and ask Him to forgive us, come into us, and be our Lord, then we will have eternal life and spend eternity with Him in heaven when our bodies die.”  I pondered this for a while and then one Sunday, at church, during the “invitation hymn” I went up and told the pastor that I wanted to ask Jesus to come into my heart and forgive me of my sins.  He prayed with me and I believe that was when I truly became a Christian.  Later, as a 14 year-old, through reading the book Joni, I came to understand that God didn’t just want to save me from the punishment of sin, but wanted a relationship with me!!   The God of the universe wanted to get to know me and for me to get to know Him.  So, it was then that I began to read His Word daily and have a deeper prayer life with Him.  So, so much has happened since then. It seems that there are always layers being peeled back and my understanding of Who He is grows deeper with the passing of time and I think we will never tire of getting to know Him more and more for all of eternity.  

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    AHHHHH — THIS IS WONDERFUL — I’M USING THIS TOMORROW!

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    Mary, what a a poignant story and so lovingly orchestrated by God. Thank you for sharing.

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Just love this Mary! The faith of a child is so real.

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 Testimony – I grew up in a very unhealthy home, the fourth of four girls.  I was 8 before I realized they were half sisters to me.  When I was 9, they were all court removed from our home.  I became very depressed, and blamed myself for all the problems.  I had been taken to church as a child, and knew that God was holy and I was not.  I could tell you that Jesus died for my sins, but it didn’t make sense.  I tried to make deals with God, asking for His help to get through the day.  After 2 years of that, as a young teen, I got down on my knees and surrendered.  I told God I was done trying to make deals.  If He wanted me, He could have all of me.  Since that day His death for me makes sense, I’ve known that I belong to Him and will be with Him in heaven.  He has brought emotional healing to my life, and filled me with a peace that others comment on.  Have you ever wanted to know if something in your life could be changed?

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    WOW MARY — SUCH AN INTERESTING TESTIMONY!

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    Oh Mary B, blaming yourself for the family problems is so typical of a child.  Even though I grew up in a Christian home, my parents had their issues (as we all do) and my mom would threaten divorce at times and I remember holding “meetings” with my older brother about what we could do to make mom happy (keep our rooms cleaner, etc…)  Children always seem to think that if those closest to them are unhappy/dysfunctional it is somehow their fault.  I’m so glad that He found you and you found Him (and surrendered your life to Him!) and that He is healing those wounds! Many, many people in this fallen world can relate to your testimony.

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    Mary, the power of God in reaching to all of us. A sure beacon of hope for those of us who are hurting.

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I LOVE YOUR TESTIMONIES EVERYONE. I LOVE LEARNING MORE ABOUT EACH OF YOU!!!! ALL OF THEM HAVE SUCH A REFLECTION OF GODS POWER. SUCH LOVE OUR GOD HAS FOR US. IT IS ALSO SO EVIDENT HE HAS GIVEN US EACH SUCH INDIVIDUAL STORIES THAT CAN TOUCH OTHERS.
WE WILL OVER COME BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB AND THE WORD OF OUR TESTIMONY.
Dee thank you for this study. I have recently started a fellowship group that will be meeting every other week and hope to use some of this material to encourage us to be reaching out to others. praying this Holy Spirit fire starts burning bright.
I also have a friend in my community who I have been prayer walking with and we are praying about a tea and cookie swap in our neighborhood. Thank you for the inspiration and hearing about others who are planning things. This is stretching me and I want to be stretched!

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    WONDERFUL LIZ!

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    Agree!! It’s so good to see how God has worked in people’s lives ?

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9. What is your take-a-way and why?
Dee, writing out my testimony was a challenge, indeed. It has been ages since I wrote one out and it took me 5 tries to come up with the one below. Praying, planning and practicing are such good reminders for a significant a thing as a testimony. 
Ever since we started this study, the Lord has given me opportunities to meet new people. And based on our conversations, these people seem to be living life in their own strength and knowledge. This has really sparked in me a desire to share my faith because I know what Jesus has done for me and the joy and peace that I have been experiencing in Him! I want them to have this joy and peace, too. 
Here is my testimony:
I grew up in a Christian home and have always thought that I inherited the Christian faith from my parents. They were not perfect
Although I grew up in a Christian home and accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord at a young age, I did not fully understand His work in my life. I have always thought the Christian life is more like a point system. I went through the early years of my life hoping that my good works were on the high end of the system. I also thought that when something bad happened to me, God was punishing me. So I would do some kind of penance to absolve myself. As a result, I often did not have peace, unsure of knowing whether I made the grade or not. Hope was like an elusive dream that was never within my reach. Then I started reading the Bible more earnestly and participated more actively in bible studies.
 
I found out that there is no point system with God! That no matter what I do, He loves me anyway. The punishment I deserved was already taken care of through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. I do not need to do penance. The Word of God has been coming alive and relevant to my life. Moreover, through the ministry of His Word, the  Bible and the fellowship of other believers, I am learning that true peace and hope is only found in Jesus Christ alone. And that He can empower me to live the Christian life on this earth.
Although I think one needs to have a generic testimony, I have learned here through the lesson on asking questions that I can pray, plan and practice different testimonies that will lend themselves to different needs of the people I encounter. I wrote the above testimony in light of the struggles of some of my students, a couple of whom has tried to take their own lives. I pray God will give me an opportunity to share my faith with them and their parents.

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Hah! I meant to delete the first line above when I copied and pasted from a Word document. I missed the time limit for editing. Sorry if it sounded disconnected.

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I submitted, then edited my testimony and it disappeared. I’m going to wait until tomorrow and if it hasn’t shown up, I’ll post it again.

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