Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
1 Peter 3:13-16
I shared a little of my testimony in an earlier book review pertaining to my growing prayer life. Today I’d like to tell you about one of my first attempts to share the Gospel and the unlikely encouragement that came from my epic failure.
After my grandfather passed away, my grandmother, who was living alone fell down the wooden stairs in their cabin. She lay helpless at the bottom of the stairs for a number of hours before she was discovered. The fall had fractured her hip and led to a long stay in rehab facility before she was eventually released into my mother’s care. At that time it was decided that it would be best for my grandmother to move in with my mom permanently.
Growing up, I loved my grandma. She was an incredible cook, she gave the sort of hug that made you want to linger in her embrace, and she was incredibly smart. My grandmother was a lover of literature, a whiz at crossword puzzles, and a hyper vigilant monitor of our grammar. As children, my siblings and I loved to watch the game show JEOPARDY with her because she always had the correct answers. (Of course, we tried to convince her to go on the show because we knew she could become rich!) For as much as we had in common, my grandma was a staunch liberal and I am not. Even more, she was fierce debater.
Once she moved in with my mother, I would see her each time I came home on leave. Oftentimes, mom and I would sit in the kitchen and visit because grandma liked the television turned loud. She had a funny habit of watching Fox News and arguing with the television each morning. Knowing her prowess for a one-sided debate, I should have been more prepared the morning I stepped into her room to share my new found faith in Christ. In under 5 minutes she had obliterated every stance I took and sent me away with my tail between my legs. Later, once I had returned to my duty station, I received this letter in the mail.
For a time, this failed attempt to share the gospel with my grandmother discouraged me from sharing my faith with others. Then again, it did work to encourage me to dig in to God’s Word and find the answers to the how, when, and why questions I had been lacking. This side of heaven there will always be more to learn about God, so if I wait until I’m comfortable I may never engage the lost with the truth. The desire to feel at easy – even comfortable – discussing matters of faith is the reason I chose to do Mary Jo Sharp’s Living In Truth.
False ideas within the body of Christ and the influence of culture crack our foundation of faith. Many women need to go back to the basis of their beliefs and strengthen confidence in their beliefs and in God. The goal of this study is to help every Christian effectively converse on truth by following basic steps: 1) See the need for these conversations, 2) Know what you believe, 3) Listen to discover the cultural view, 4) Learn to ask questions, 5) Respond to false beliefs, and 6) Engage in a lifestyle of total truth.
Do you look for openings in daily conversations to share your Christian faith? Perhaps you feel uncomfortable sharing such a “private” matter or fear being rejected, labeled, or laughed off. In her new study Living in Truth, apologist Mary Jo Sharp works to demolish the strongholds that keep Christians bound in silence. By using what we already know to be true from the word of God, and implementing some of Mary Jo’s conversation starters and clarifying questions, study participants will be left feeling more confident and prepared to confront our culture with the truth in love.
Based on my own experiences, I benefited most from weeks 4 and 5. In Week 4, Mary Jo encourages me to use Christ as a model for conversations and she questions how atheists can find good apart from God, yet what I enjoyed most was an encounter she relayed in which she defused a tense conversation by simply listening and then asking pointed questions. Helpful sample questions and scenarios are scattered throughout the study. Another argument I’ve encountered, one that states “Christianity is based on a book of man-made myth,” was dismantled in week 5. These were key weeks for me, however I believe every participant will find a portion of this study that will dissolve their doubts and strengthen their resolve.
Of the many bible studies that I’ve completed, this one struck me as being “the next step.” After building a basic knowledge of scripture, Christians need to move forward and engage unbelievers in deep, meaningful conversations about Christ. This study would be perfect for a women’s ministry group. The study could also benefit crisis pregnancy center volunteers (a ministry dear to my heart), college or street ministry coordinators, and entire churches who are focused on reaching the lost in their community.
I received this book through the B&H/LifeWay Bloggers program for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Mary Jo Sharp is a former atheist from the Pacific Northwest who thought religion was for the weak-minded. She now holds a Masters in Christian Apologetics from Biola University and is the first woman to become a Certified Apologetics Instructor through the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.