Front Row Faith by Tracee J. Swank

When your experience exceeds your expectation…share it!

Front Row Faith by Tracee J. Swank - When your experience exceeds your expectation…share it!

You’re Giving Up What for Lent?

As we approached Ash Wednesday I noticed a number of online status updates about giving up social media for Lent. This led me to several challenging questions. I believe social media is one of the great symbols of relationship building and sharing our faith stories we have.

Give up Candy Crush, Words with Friends, scanning YouTube videos, sure. But to entirely give up social media for 40 days is a challenge for me to understand. I am asked a lot by church members, leaders, and pastors, “How can we reach more people for Christ and be better at making disciples?”  My answer is we need to be more effective at sharing our God stories with people we have relationships with in our networks. This includes our online and offline network of relationships.

So, why would you give up using a platform to share the story of Jesus and the journey to the cross?

Why give up a vehicle you can use to build relationships with the unchurched people in your network?

Why during the most important 40 days of the Christian Church calendar, would you voluntarily choose to stop using a platform to tell about Jesus on the cross and what the hope of the resurrection means to our lives today?

I get it too many people are addicted to their mobile devices, Facebook statuses, and instantly sharing pictures of their lunch. I understand you could argue you don’t have any unchurched friends in your network. I would not disagree with anyone who felt they needed to make a change in this area. Is it so we can share we sacrificed and gave up something?

What about the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross?

What about sharing the hope of the resurrection?

Can’t we use this time and these platforms to intentionally through our relationships share the difference Jesus has made in our lives?

In 40 days we will see thousands of fast breaking status updates proclaiming, “He is risen!” And those who haven’t given up social media will reply immediately, “He is risen indeed!”

But if you have been fasting from the internet for 40 days who in your network, besides your other Christian friends, will even know or care about what this proclamation means? Probably not many.

If you have already made the commitment to fast from social media I am not asking you to break it. (And you’re probably not going to see this post for at least 41 more days anyway.) I am just challenging all of us to think about the culture of the world we live in today and the vehicles we have been given to share our God stories.

Consider if giving up a platform to share the story of the journey to the cross helps you build relationships or further separates you from people who may not understand what Jesus’ death on the cross means for you and them.

Is this the best way to tell the story?

Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons

When you start reading Rebekah Lyons’ story of her journey through loneliness, anxiety, depression, and ultimately wondering why on earth God put her in this world you will not be able to put it down. Rebekah’s story is so candid, direct, and honest that you can’t help but feel like you know her personally after you finish reading the words on the pages. She shares with her readers some of the most challenging and intimately personal moments of her struggles to find and discover the life God had planned for her.

Given the recent interest and focus on coping and addressing mental illness among Christians and those who serve in ministry this book is very timely in its release. The book is not just a story of one person’s life but it is also a helpful resource for those wanting to understand how to find what God has gifted and called you to do, be, and become. The journey to discover God’s meaning and purpose for your life is not easy and Rebekah shares how she learned how to address and release her struggle, turning it over to God and also trusting in Him with the next steps she needed to take to live.

As many struggle with the question “what does God want me to do with my life?” We often forget to turn to Him for the answers but we continue to rely on our own strategies and plans to figure out the answer. As Rebekah points out solely relying on our approach or methods seldom lasts and or works out in our favor.

Perhaps the best part of the book is in the closing chapters with the power questions Rebekah asks the reader to consider. These questions help the reader bring clarity and a sense of direction to the next steps of moving forward and moving out of the darkness of depression, anxiety, and struggle and into the light that comes with knowing you are in the center of God’s will and purpose for your life.

If you work in ministry with those who struggle with anxiety and worry about their life’s meaning and purpose, read this book and then pass it on to others to read. It will show you there is light in the darkness and be a valuable resource. Rebekah’s story is a symbol of overcoming great challenges to achieving and discovering real purpose.