We Have a Story to Share!

hannah young preacherYesterday, I had the honor of presenting at the INUMC Festival of Young Preachers. The theme of the event was “Share Your Story.” I hope this message inspires you to share YOUR story! We all have a story to share. 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

A few years ago, I found myself sitting in the audience, where you are now. I remember listening to everyone who stood here, with wide eyes, and inspiration burning in my heart. They were amazing storytellers! And I wanted to be just like them… and now, here I am! It is so good to be here!

I was excited to learn that the theme of this festival is “share your story” because I believe that God has given us all a story to share… and I know that he equips us to be great storytellers.

To me, great storytellers are people who can somehow make things incredibly REAL and ENGAGING for their audience, by inviting you to take a step into their story with them, and somehow make it your own.

Really great storytellers know that the key to continuing the story, even after the last chapter is finished, is to invite people to be a part of it… they give us a role to play… a job to do… a thought to ponder… a mission to accomplish.

They use their story to change things.
To make an impact on the reader and the world.
They use their story to make more stories…
Through you, and me, and everyone we encounter.

Usually these storytellers bring life to a concept that is hard to grasp. They make even the most crazy ideas seem possible… Because they have seen the impossible happen. Their lives have been impacted by the Greatest Storymaker— GOD

Recently, I had a chance to meet with an amazing storyteller: Mike Pierce, founder of Clean Water in Africa. He came to my home to thank me for the work I have been doing to raise funds and awareness for clean water in Burkina Faso. I was truly honored that he would make a special trip to my home to spend time with me. I fully expected him to talk about the mission of Clean Water in Africa, and he did… but the story about how the mission formed was full of other stories about how God had worked miracles in his life.

One of his stories included a time when he was asked to pray out loud for the first time. He was afraid he wouldn’t have the right words. He tried to get out of it! But he could not escape the job God was calling him to do… So, he joined 3 other men in a small prayer chapel… and each of them took turns praying. When it was his turn, he found that God had given him just the right words to pray… again and again. He was astounded! It was the first time he really experienced the work of the Holy Spirit in his life. And he believed with excitement that, in his words, “this Holy Spirit stuff is real.” And even though it was many years ago, he was still moved to tears as he shared his story… And, seeing this man talk about his faith journey impacted me in ways I didn’t expect.

His story reaffirmed that God empowers ordinary people to do his great work… even when it seems impossible!

Since that day, I have been thinking about the power our stories have to help people connect with God to form their own personal story. As people who have experienced the love and power of God in our lives, our role is to tell His story – our story – with passion and excitement – to all who will listen.

Our stories make God real to those who don’t know him yet… or to those who doubt He can work in and through our lives… and for those that need encouragement to do some crazy big thing God is calling them to do.  When we honestly and openly and excitedly share how he has worked in our lives – in big and small ways – people see that He is still alive— and He still works miracles— and He still loves!

I recently saw this quote on facebook…

“When we are open and giving of our light, we create an endless reflection that outlives our human existence (Gary Friedman)”

God has given each of us a beautiful light to share with the world…

He has made us His great storytellers…

Listen to these words Jesus spoke to his followers before he went up to Heaven —

Acts 1:8
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We know those first Christians did tell people everywhere, with the help of the Holy Spirit— and it changed the world around them in powerful ways. And I am so thankful for their bravery and perseverance because they helped share a story that impacts my life today.

I believe we have to get serious about sharing our story – God’s story – with everyone we can… because I believe there are a lot of people who are desperately searching to know that God is still at work, making stories today.. in 2015…

We all have a story that was perfectly made and formed by our Great Storymaker — and when we share that story, we invite others to be part of it… and their faith is strengthened… and lives are changed.

And, just like a tree that sends out seeds, that make more trees to make more seeds…

They share the story, too, and change even more lives…

And that’s how the Kingdom grows.

One story at a time…
one life at a time…

Until Jesus comes again to begin a new chapter…

Who will you share your story with?
How will you invite them into a relationship with our Great Storyteller God?

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Jesus was the ultimate noticer!

Jesus was the ultimate noticer!

I have been thinking a lot lately about how much Jesus payed attention to the people around him.

Jesus noticed people, and he made sure to interact with people that others ignored.

Here are some stories-

John 5:5 – In the crowd, Jesus noticed one particular man who had been living with his disability for 38 years. He knew this man had been waiting here a long time.

In Matthew 19 jesus noticed his disciples were treating children like they were annoying, but Jesus made sure everyone knew they were welcome and wanted.

In Mark 5  Jesus noticed that someone in the crowd touched his robe. When he learned that it was an unclean woman that touched his robe, he responded with kindness – she was healed – and jesus showed her kindness that she probably hadn’t experienced in a really long time. Her life was changed forever!

John 9:1 says Jesus noticed the blind man, and then helped him by healing him.

In Luke 19, Jesus NOTICED Zacchaeus. And had an encounter with him that changed Zacchaeus’ heart so much, he was a completely different person!

And in Matthew 9, when Jesus noticed the people who didn’t accept who he was, he had a deep compassion for them… And he said the harvest is plenty but the workers are few.

Jesus noticed… In fact, Jesus, was like the Ultimate Noticer!

He saw things that are practically invisible to those around him, and he made them better! He healed the hurt, and loved the lonely, and forgave those who were so afraid that they would never be forgiven.

Not only did he notice, but he also gave! He gave time and attention and a life changing experience to people who everyone else thought were unworthy. And he still calls us to do the same today!

Jesus gathered Disciples by walking along a dirty road and inviting them to become Noticers of the hungry, the sick, the lost, the forgotten and the hurt, and to help them see a tiny glimpse of the love and greatness of our God.

I believe that He still gathers disciples, today, and turns them into gifted and beautiful people who are “Noticers.” Noticers see things- the broken, the hopeless, the wounded, the tragic, the lost- just like Jesus did– But Noticers do more than just notice.

Noticers respond to what they see, with compassion and care, by doing whatever it takes to help meet needs and create more beauty, joy and peace in the world. Noticers inspire! Noticers help make other Noticers, and together they do great things to change the world.

I believe this world needs more Noticers.

So, I invite you to look around, this week… What will you notice?

And I hope that you will choose to do something about it, and follow in the footsteps of the Ultimate Noticer!

Because, when Jesus brings something to our attention, it’s Him, shouting “DO SOMETHING!” In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”

So listen when he calls you to make a difference in someone’s life! Because, when you show love to others, you show love to God, too.