evangelism

Bravocado, Jesus! (Factor of 7)

Few things in this life make my heart overflow with joy more than when God turns a trial into a blessing.

That was certainly the case in our latest “Factor of 7” for the month of June.

My beloved and I were in Fort Stewart for his eye surgery. (To read the back story, click here.) We were doing our best to enjoy ourselves—but when you are dealing with army hospitals and/or their plans and/or the fact that we were traveling/fasting/ eating only 7 foods for a month, it can prove to be a bit challenging.

However, I was trying so, so hard to cling to my key verse for the day found in 1 Corinthians 10:10– “And do not grumble, as some of them did…” Honestly, I thought I was doing pretty good… until we made it to suppertime.

We made the mistake of not doing appropriate recon before deciding what to do for supper. I had brought food with us from home to make meals in the hotel room, but sweet Brandon was convinced that we could eat out and be fine.

Big mistake. It was easy for him—I mean, most restaurants in America can do something that involves plain beef and normal potatoes—but my fasting requirements were a little more restrictive.

He picked Chili’s—so off we went. We sat down and I scanned the menu. Oh dear. This was going to be difficult.

I frantically scanned the menu to find something that would accommodate my need for only eggs, chicken, bread, apples, sweet potatoes, spinach or avocado. The only thing I could come up with? A plain grilled chicken sandwich with avocado.

It was the third meal in a row that I had that almost exact food combination. I nearly cried. (But held strong. Barely. Thanks, Jesus.)

We ended up explaining to our waitress Heather why we had “weird food” requests. We told her about the fast and a little bit about Jesus. At the end of our meal, we asked Heather how we could pray for her. She blinked her eyes for a moment and briefly mentioned that she was currently having some financial struggles… Duly noted.

I got up to go to the restroom since I had been chugging water trying to fill up my stomach. Brandon and I had been talking earlier in the day about what we should do for our monthly Factor of 7 act of kindness. Up until that point, we had nothing. But  when I came back from the restroom, my sweet husband asked if she could be our “Factor of 7.” He thought that since she was struggling financially,  he we should leave her at $107 tip.

I was speechless. Not only was I touched at the thought, I was downright impressed at my husband’s ability to piece that all together. (Amazing what the Holy Spirit can do, huh?) Oh, and I have NEVER been more in love with that man than at that very moment. (BE STILL MY HEART!!)

So that’s what we did. We left her a $107 tip with a note that said: “Heather, we hope that this tip is just the beginning of many answered prayers. $100 because God loves you more than you can imagine, and $7 because we all have 7 Days Time each week to share that love. God bless.”  We left her a 7 Days Time Ministry card and departed the restaurant.

My stomach might have still been a little empty as we left that restaurant—but my heart was full.

How has blessing someone else blessed you? We would love your feedback. Please leave your comments below!

So today,  we are thankful for Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives, guiding us and inspiring us to do His will in the most unexpected of places. We praise Him for turning our small trials into His triumphs.

We rejoice in the fact that God can take something small like another avocado chicken sandwich and transform it into a huge blessing.

And for that, we say Bravocado, Jesus.

Blessed by blessing,
SGK

 “Bravo, God, Bravo! Everyone join in the great shout: Encore! In awe before the beauty, in awe before the might.” –Psalm 96:7 (MSG)

Categories: blessings, challenge, Christ, Courage, evangelism, Factor of 7, positive | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

A Latte Love (Factor of 7)

Yesterday at 5:45am, my phone alarm went off. But unlike other days as of late, I had NO problem bounding out of bed.

It was time for third month of Factor of 7. I was so excited about it, I woke up three times throughout the night to make sure I hadn’t overslept for our Jesus adventure.

As I write this, I can’t tell if my excited jitters are from the skinny caramel macchiato I had or the remnants of our Starbucks Factor of 7. (Talk about some legit Jesus Caffeine!)

So yes, yesterday my beloved and I found ourselves at McGraw housing complex Starbuck’s here on a Fort Benning. At 7:00am. Ready to bless some folks with free coffee. $107 of free coffee, to be exact.

And as it has proven the last two months… It. Was. Awesome. Jesus was there– and blessed us immensely.

My beloved approached the cash register and ordered our personal drinks. (Perk of Factor of 7 experience: We get an excuse to treat ourselves to coffee/yogurt etc.) He asked the cashier/barista to break a $20 bill. (We needed a couple smaller bills to get our exact cash amount.) Needless to say, the cashier/barista looked a smidgen annoyed at our request.

But in less than thirty seconds, that all changed.

Brandon handed me the $5 bill I needed, then I stepped up to the register and told Shauna that we were going to pay for the next $107 worth of coffee that came through the line.

Her expression was PRICELESS. Her jaw dropped, eyes got big and she gasped…. “WHHAAAA… ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!”

The entire atmosphere of that little coffee shop changed quicker than you could say “double shot espresso.” For the next 45 minutes or so, Brandon and I stood at the pick-up counter, notebook and business cards in hand, watching peoples’ reactions and asking how we could pray for them.

That's us on the right. Sharing some Latte Love

In total, we were able to buy coffee/breakfast for 22 people. One of our bless-ees is having a baby in June. Another is deploying to Germany. Several families were preparing to watch their son/brother graduate from Basic Training today and tomorrow. (Fun conversations ensued when I told them that the handsome man behind me was a drill sergeant. Fortunately they weren’t in his battalion, so my beloved wasn’t one of the drills who probably made their son cry 😉 )

When I asked one lady how we could pray for her, she leaned in close to me, eyes misty and whispered gently, “I am a cancer survivor.” I very loudly (and enthusiastically) blurted out “WELL, PRAISE THE LORD!!” I’m sure the other customers were intrigued.

It was a fantastic way to spend part of our morning. Oh… And did we mention that a reporter from The Bayonet (the local Fort Benning newspaper) was there? She is going to run a story on our ministry in next week’s paper. (Thanks for that one, Jesus!)

Today we encourage you to share the love of Christ around you. Get creative. Pop over to the Factor of 7 page for ideas. You never know who you will bless… and how YOU will be blessed in return.

Oh, one more thing… To celebrate this successful event, we are doing a GIVEAWAY!!!  We are sharing a little more Latte Love with a chance for you to win a Starbuck’s gift card!

The contest starts today and will continue until the story runs next week in The Bayonet. (Approximately one week.) To enter, share this post (and/or future/past posts) with folks you know via Facebook, email, Twitter, etc. And then leave a comment here to give your reaction and how you shared.

The more you share/comment, the more times you can enter to win some of your own Latte Love!

We are so thankful that we have been called to serve in this way… More than 22 different kinds of drinks were purchased on Wednesday at McGraw Starbucks from frappuccinos to white chocolate mochas… But every single one of them was made with little Jesus Latte Love!

Caffeinated with Christ,
SGK

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
–John 13:34

Categories: army, blessing, Drill Sergeant, evangelism, excited, Factor of 7, generosity, giveaway, God, husband, Love | Tags: , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Be Original: Don’t forget the Squirrel

I  can’t help but remember the first time someone copied me in school. It wasn’t on a test or assignment, but rather it was a nature shadow box for science class in the third grade. I have always been the one to think outside the box (get it? shadow box?) and this third grade project was no exception.

Instead of using just paper, glitter and a few real twigs and leaves, I went a little crazy with this assignment. I remember making a “real fake tree” and even putting a pretend squirrel in it. After I shared my shadow box with the class, I noticed when a classmate presented his the next day, there was a “real fake tree…” and a squirrel.

I cried.

I was so upset that my genius, creative idea had been jacked by some booger-laden third grader. (I know, I know… I was a booger-laden third grader too. But you get my point.) I went home upset and cried to my mom. She tried to explain to me that imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Yeah, whatever. I would have said “That’s crap, Mom” but I know that would have found me hanging over the bathroom sink trying to get the taste of dial soap out of my mouth.

We live in a society where fads and trends can dictate our lives if we allow it. With the new year here, everybody and their brother has set resolutions. Probably the most popular one? Lose weight. Other areas find us following the crowd, buying the expensive name-brand jeans or teasing the kid with glasses at school because that’s what the cool kids do.

But we were born original. So let’s not die a copy.

There is nothing wrong with following trends or learning new things to better yourself. It is when those fads start to take priority or blur your vision and we cease to think with our own, unique and wonderfully  made-by-God brain when things start to go south.

So how can we love God more deeply in 2012 even if it isn’t the most popular choice? Let’s be like Jesus. He didn’t follow the crowd. The crowd followed Him. He was an original and certainly didn’t die a copy anyone.

We can share his message and provide an avenue for others to follow us in His steps. If we share His message, then others will “copy” us– which, unlike my third-grade mind decided, CAN BE a very good thing.

Think outside the box (literally and figuratively) on ways that you can share the love of God with others. Open a door, bake cookies for a neighbor, pay for a stranger’s lunch, pray…  If you are original by being bold in your faith, others will surely follow. That isn’t the highest form of flattery for us, but rather one of the highest forms of loving and glorifying God.

Build your “real-fake” tree OUT of your box. Be original. Let others follow YOU.

Oh. And don’t forget to add the squirrel.

Embracing bold faith,

SGK

“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34

Categories: childhood, evangelism, faith, unique | Leave a comment

Christ in a Cow Pasture: The REST of the Story…

Seventeen days ago, I had the opportunity to lead my beloved Dad to Christ (In case you missed it, get the whole story here. It’s a pretty awesome recount of God’s love and power!)

So today, in the words of the late Paul Harvey… Here is the REST of the story.

First, a little background: since October of 2008, my Dad has been struggling with his health. Up until that point, he had been in ok physical condition, minus the extremely random heart attack at age 45 when I was a senior in high school (but again, that is another post.) Anyway, on Halloween night 2008, I got a call from my mom that they were taking my Dad to the ER for “nerve issues.” I can’t remember all of the symptoms, but we were concerned.

(Sidenote: never try to google the symptoms and come up with a diagnosis before the doctor does… you won’t sleep for a month. Yikes.)

Ever since that point, my Dad’s health has been all over the place… the nerve issues continued and it has been over three years and they have yet to determine a legit diagnosis. Not long after the nerve stuff showed up, his stomach/digestive system got all out of whack. Needless to say, for the last 3+ years, my dad has essentially felt like crap.

The doctors (from small town to KU med) have pretty much just passed him back and forth because when he goes, he shares ALL of his symptoms (which is what I thought you were supposed to do.) Unfortunately, the neurologists say “I don’t do stomach stuff” and the gastroenterologists say “I don’t do nerve stuff.” “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.” You get the point.  It’s been over three years of bouncing around with minimal answers and resolution. Until…

He found Jesus in a cow pasture, sitting in the cab of a yellow work truck. (Seriously… link up to the other story and this will make A LOT more sense.)

Dad and I prayed for Jesus to come into his heart that day in the cow pasture late morning/early afternoon. After that, we headed home for lunch, scarfed down some food and headed back to the cattle. As we were bouncing along in the pasture, suddenly I blurted out “I wonder if you have a gluten allergy.”

Now, before all you medically inclined people out there start teaching me about the differences between gluten allergy, gluten intolerance, celiac disease, just let me say… I need to know these things. Because I have had ZERO, zippo, nada experience with this and have NO IDEA where this thought came from.

I immediately got on my handy dandy Android and googled “symptoms of gluten intolerance.” Good thing I was sitting down in the truck with the door shut or I would have fallen over. People with gluten issues can have extremely random symptoms… Everything from headaches (check), attitude changes (check), stomach stuff (lots of checks,) and nerve issues (holy frickin’ check.)

My heart was POUNDING as I read the list of symptoms out loud to my Dad. Now, there is something to you need to know about my Daddy. I love him. Dearly. But he is a red head. He is very stubborn. And he is a straight up pessimist.

After the junk he had been through the last three years of feeling like EWW, he wasn’t very optimistic, but at that point willing to try anything, even if it meant giving up beer and “real bread”… which says a lot for that red-headed Missouri Mule.

We got home, I encouraged Dad to share what had happened to his heart that day. It took some coaxing… (Profess it with your mouth!) but he hugged Mom and sobbed out “I accepted Jesus into my heart.” It was beautiful. (Pause for Kleenex break.)

THEN, I shared with Mom the idea about the gluten allergy/intolerance whatever it could be. We read through the symptoms again and out of the 40 random ones listed, Dad had 18 of them. Hmmm…

Mom was also desperate for Dad to feel better and we noticed that the research said typically in adults (especially older adults) gluten issues often go undiagnosed. Interesting…

So, with a one day notice, we enacted “Operation-Gluten-Free-Thanksgiving-Please-Jesus-Let-This-Be-From-You!” (GFTPJLTBFY for short 🙂

We had a gluten free Thanksgiving, thanks to the surprisingly large selection of gluten-free products at our local small-town Wal-mart. I even created a version of a food diary, complete with the pain ranking scale (the one you see at doctor’s offices with the smiley and sad faces.) I said we were going to do this experiment, recording Dad’s “pain” ranking throughout the day, along with what he ate (gluten free of course.)

Well, it has now been 17 days. I called Dad yesterday to wish him happy biological birthday (I think it is pretty sweet that he gets TWO birthdays within a 17-day time span.) And guess what? My pessimistic, seemingly hopeless Dad said… He felt better. “ALMOST good.”

That says A LOT!! I was so excited and am now celebrating for ANOTHER reason! He is not completely pain free (he has been a farmer for nearly half a century– I know he has back/nerve issues in general) but the stomach/digestion thing is GREATLY improved… and gluten free.

This isn’t a post to say “Yes, I am genius and thought up this gluten theory.” It’s a God thing. Dad, after struggling and clinging to control for 53 years, gave his life over and submitted to Jesus that day n the cow pasture. He gave up control.  His illness and health issues were part of his recovery testimony. God had the loving plan all along to put him through those health trials to bring my stubborn Daddy to his knees before the throne. Within HOURS of saying YES to Jesus, Christ gave us the answer to start the physical healing process. Can I get an AMEN??

From Christ in a Cow pasture to God and a gluten-free lifestyle… What an awesome way to tell the rest of the story.

The Testimony Continues,

SGK

“Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!” –Hebrews 12:9

PS– The giveaway for the free “Leadership and Faith” package is still going on… You don’t want to miss out on this great opportunity. To enter comment or see my celebration for more information!

PSS– If anyone out there has any stellar recommendations for living a gluten free lifestyle (specifically: recipes) please comment and let me know!

Categories: evangelism, health, hope, Salvation | 5 Comments

Christ in a Cow Pasture

Bless the Lord, O my soul! My Dad came to Christ yesterday… In the middle of a cow pasture!

As I write this, I am still in awe of how the Holy Spirit works… He really does show up anywhere, anytime, even in the cab of a work truck in the middle of a cow pasture in southeast Kansas. Ever since I completed an evangelism class for my masters program, I have had a new outlook about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I realized it was something that I could do—and that I didn’t have to do much, other than have the courage to bring up the subject and allow the Holy Spirit to move.
Praise the Lord for such a wonderful earthly father
AND heavenly father!

A little background on my Dad… He has always been very supportive of my Christian walk, from the time I was saved and baptized at age 11 to present day. I had a feeling he was potentially open to the idea of salvation through Christ, but no one had ever asked him that question. Side Fact: Did you know that 95% of Christians remain silent about their faith and never evangelize another person their entire life? Until yesterday, I was essentially part of that statistic.

Anyways, after my evangelism class, I started to pray for those friends and family (and even acquaintances) that I thought didn’t know Christ.  My Dad was on that list. I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me, encouraging me to bring up the topic over my time at home in November… Yesterday I went to work with my Dad, riding in the truck, opening gates, helping check cattle. The whole time, I prayed for an opportunity to bring it up.

I could almost feel a mini-battle going on my heart between the Holy Spirit to tell my Dad about Jesus, that we are sinners, He loved us so much He died for us and we have hope versus the Enemy trying to induce nerves and talk me out of it.

Finally, as we bounced across a pasture and put out a hay bale for yet another herd of cattle… I finally just told Satan to shut his mouth. I blurted out… “Dad… I have a question for you.”

I would love to give you play-by-play of our conversation… but I have no idea what I said (primarily because it wasn’t MY voice but the Holy Spirit doing the work.) I do remember it involved statements surrounding The Cross, Jesus’ love for us, forgiveness, sin, hope and how to pray to ask Him to come into Dad’s heart. After I stated whatever I said, I remembered one of the best tips from my class… “THOU SHALT KEEP THY MOUTH SHUT.” (Ok, it wasn’t exactly in those words, but you get my point.)

I knew I had to keep my mouth shut and allow the Holy Spirit to do the work. I sat. Silently prayed. And sat. Prayed. Watched. And sat. The truck rumbled. My Dad’s eyes started to water… Then the Holy Spirit broke through and Dad began to sob. I somehow managed to keep it together, mainly because I knew I had to help him through a prayer to ask for forgiveness and invited Jesus into his life.

I got out of the truck and went around to the driver’s side door. I opened the door, Dad got out and right there in the middle of that cold, muddy cow pasture, we got down on our knees and prayed for Jesus to enter his heart.

Holy Cow. (Literally.)  Talk about “pastoring” in a pasture!

That was the first time I had led anyone to Christ. And now we can all be assured that no matter what happens tomorrow, next year or 20 years from now, someday we will all be reunited and I will be able to dance with my Dad (and Jesus!) in heaven!

Dancing with my Daddy on the day of my
wedding.

We are all called to “Go and make disciples throughout the world.” It’s the Great Commission, which is another word for command. It’s not the “Great Suggestion” to do if you feel bold… If you are unsure about how to go about sharing your faith, check out William Fay’s book “Share Jesus Without Fear.” It helped me to rely on the Holy Spirit… And my Dad has a hope and future in Jesus Christ because of it! PRAISE THE LORD!

Keep your eyes open. Pray, pray, pray. Trust the Holy Spirit to help you to share the gospel with others… You never know when you will have a chance to change another person’s eternal fate. It can happen anytime, anyplace… someone might even find Christ in a cow pasture.

Soli Deo Gloria,

SGK

PS: Please pray for my Dad, a new baby Christian born again yesterday, that he may be discipled and grow as he lives in the footsteps of Jesus!

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” –Psalm 13:5

Categories: agriculture, Christ, evangelism, hope, Salvation | 6 Comments

Gettin’ Dirty

Last week for class (I know, it was a big week of learning!) we were discussing evangelism. In one of our books, “The Art of Personal Evangelism” by William McRaney, he said “dealing with lost people will cause us to get our hands dirty and sweaty just like tending to yard work. Part of evangelism is to clear up the misconceptions and misperceptions people have about the gospel. Dealing with people and evangelism is often messy.” We were charged to react to the statement, and I thought it might be lucrative to close out my “testimony” section of this blog by showing how getting dirty (for others) and allowing Christ to do that with in us could be so incredibly beneficial and rewarding.

*****

I really appreciated McRaney’s analogy of getting our hands dirty and sweaty work when it comes to evangelism. I just revamped my front yard here on the military post (by myself.) Five large green trashcans of old yucky mulch and 39 bags of new mulch later, I understood the dirty sweaty work. I believe that anytime you are working with the heart of people, it is going to be dirty, especially when it involves something as delicate and personal as sharing the gospel. I am afraid some of the misconceptions include viewing evangelists/Christians as yard supply salespeople—that everything is a scam and over priced. The opposite is quite true. We need to be the folks that come by and clean up the garden of someone else, dirt under our fingernails, sweat dripping down our noses free of charge. Jesus has already paid that price for us. He was covered in sweat, dirt, blood and spit—so what is a little dirty sweat for us to endure?

As contemporary evangelists, we must sharpen our “tools” as our passion for Christ, knowledge of his word and a pure heart and head into those front and backyard jungles of non-believers. Then, enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, can take our metaphorical weed eaters, hedge clippers, shovels and rakes and start “cleaning.” Just as it says in the “Share Jesus without Fear” text, it depends on how many positive seeds have been planted for the gospel that will determine the time and effort involved in “cleaning up” the misconceptions and sharing the Good News. It is going to be a messy job. Just as it says in the Bible, we can help bear the burdens of others, and as the salty, light-driven gardeners, we might be called to dig in and clear out some of the rotten, painful, weedy, dark place so that Jesus can come into their hearts.

Our salvation and recovery testimonies not only help us to relate to those whose garden is still a little overgrown and untended, but it brings into the light our own past weeds in our life and how the power of Jesus got to work via other evangelists who witnessed to us in order to clean up our hearts. As I was writing my recovery testimony yesterday, I felt like Jesus didn’t just use a rake, shovel and a couple bags of mulch. By using my past church in Missouri and some extremely difficult life circumstances, he came into my heart/life, utilizing a huge weed whacker, about 10 bottles of Round up pesticide and a bulldozer to completely re-landscape/overhaul my heart.

I remember that I was initially very scared of the gospel and what it meant to be a Christian. That was my primary misconception. It reminds me of someone standing in my front yard (heart), looking at the weeds choking out the healthy beautiful flowers and saying “You know Sharita, things would be a lot more enjoyable and easier to handle if you would just clean this up.” (Clean this up= allow Jesus to lead me) But my distorted misconceptions about evangelism had me thinking that it was 1) A lot of work 2) A continual process that once you started it was futile to stop maintaining. Fortunately, Jesus and his bulldozer came into my heart and started plowing over the gross weeds and unhealthy dirt. Now, He has given me my own little shovel, rake and bottle of Round-Up that I can start helping my “neighbors” clean up their yards by getting down and dirty through the awesome and clean love of Christ!
*****
Are  you ready to get down and dirty for Christ? Let’s break a sweat and share the Good News!
Dirt under my nails,
SGK


“We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” –Colossians 1:28-29
Categories: Christ, dirty, evangelism, sweat, weeds | Leave a comment

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