Broadcast

Share His Love Through Your Story

From the series Share the Love

We all love to be told a story - through a book, a movie, or first-hand. Stories are powerful because people are interested, they can relate, and it's not threatening. Knowing how to tell a story is key. In this message, Chip prepares you step-by-step to tell your story in a winsome way that respects others and honors God's call for you to share the love.

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Message Transcript

The word of your testimony, your story is powerful. However, most Christians don’t know how to share their story in a simple, clear way that communicates the love of God to other people.

And what I want to do is I want to teach you this morning how to tell your story. And I figured maybe the very best way to do it was to see the model that’s outlined in Scripture. Three times in the book of Acts the apostle Paul tells his story: Acts 9, Acts 22, and Acts 26.

In this occasion, he gets to stand before Herod the Great’s great grandson - Bernice and Agrippa - he’s the king of Palestine. It’s not a really big kingdom but Rome has given him this opportunity to be king, he is a practicing Jew although history tells us that his lifestyle didn’t match up very well.

But he knows all about Jewish law and Jewish custom. The apostle Paul is a prisoner.

And so we’re going to pick up the story in Acts chapter 26 and the apostle Paul has one last shot to make his defense. And of all the things, guess what he does? He tells his story.

This is the outline: He tells about his life before Christ in verses 4 through 11. Then he tells very specifically how he met Jesus. And then third, he talks about the difference Jesus made in his life.

And I want you to kind of get that down because it’s very simple. Your life before you met Christ, how specifically you met Him, and then the difference that He made.

Follow along and let’s just read his story and then I’m literally going to take those principles and we’re going to outline all of our stories so that in the days to come, over a cup of coffee, over a meal, sitting next to someone on a bus, they may ask a question and in about three to five minutes, you will learn very clearly, how to share your story.

Verse 1, chapter 26: “Then King Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You have permission to speak for yourself.’ So Paul motioned with his hand and he began his defense. ‘King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you listen to me carefully.’”

Now he’s going to build some credibility and say, “This is what my life was like before I met Christ personally.”

“The Jews all know the way I lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country and also in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived as a Pharisee. And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I’m on trial today. This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O King, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me.

“Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead? I too was convinced that I ought to do everything possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests, I put many of the saints into prison and when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.

“Many times I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.”

And so he gives this story and you just realize, there is a murderous, zealous, religious, actually nut who was just trying to kill every Christian in the name of God. Then notice the shift and I want you to listen for how specific he is.

Verse 12: “’On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, O King, as I was on the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing all around me and my companions. We fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It’s hard for you to kick against the goads.’

“‘Then I asked, Who are you, Lord? ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet for I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant, and a witness of what you have seen of Me, and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I’m sending you to open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so they may receive forgiveness of sins, and a place among those that are sanctified by faith in Me.’”

So he’s very specific. It was noon. The sun was bright. He even tells us what language he heard it in. He gives the actual words as sort of a “You are there.” And then picking up in verse 19 he talks about what difference it made.

“‘So then, King Agrippa, I wasn’t disobedient to the vision from heaven. First, to those in Damascus, and then in Jerusalem and all Judea, and the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.

‘That is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. But I have had God’s help to this very day; and so I stand here and I testify to small and to great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen – that the Christ would suffer and would be the first to rise from the dead and would proclaim light to His own people and to the Gentiles.’

“At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. ‘You are out of your mind, Paul!’ he shouted. ‘Your great learning is driving you insane.’ ‘I am not insane, most excellent Festus,’ Paul replied, ‘what I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice because it wasn’t done in a corner.’

And now after he has said, “This is my life before, this is specifically my relationship how I met Christ, this is how things have changed,” then he ends his story with sort of a provocative question. He asked for a response.

He says, verse 27, “King Agrippa? Do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” Implication: If the prophets are true, if what Moses said, if everything I’m saying is true, the implications about Jesus are true and then notice King Agrippa knew exactly what he meant.

“Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think in such a short time that you can persuade me to become a Christian?’ Paul replied, ‘Short time or long – I pray that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, a Christian, except for these chains.’ The king arose with the governor, and Bernice, and those sitting with him, they left the room, and while talking with one another they said, ‘This man isn’t doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.’ Agrippa said to Festus, ‘This man could have been set free if he’d not appealed to Caesar.’”

If you will walk with me for about the next twenty minutes or so and even with a pen, what I’m going to do is I’m going to walk through how to tell the story. I’m going to show you exactly how you could make a few notes and bullet points and tell your story.

I’m going to encourage you, at the end of our time, to literally this afternoon take a half hour or forty-five minutes, maybe an hour for some, and literally write down, “This is what my life was like before Christ. This was the day,” and for some it won’t be a very, real specific day. I realize there’s some that have had a little bit different experience. “But this is specifically my relationship with Christ, how I met Him. And this is how my life changed.”

If you will invest that time to write that out I will guarantee you God will give you an opportunity to share that in the most natural, normal way with some people than you ever dreamed.

And you’ll find yourself sharing God’s love and having a confidence to share it.

I got an email from someone I had a chance to sit down and he wanted to learn how to share his story and so I said, “I’d be glad to.” And I took him to Acts chapter 26, in fact, I’ve been in this passage many times, taken a lot of groups through it.

And it was a Sunday afternoon and I shared it with him. He later wrote me an email. He said, “You know what? I’ve been a Christian since I was seven years old and I didn’t think I had much of a story. I actually grew up in, like, a really great home. My parents actually really loved each other. I’ve never been on drugs, I’ve never been an alcoholic. I don’t have anything fantastic to say.

“But when I started to write down my story, how exciting is it to say that when I was five and a half years old, you know, at my bedside with my mom I trusted Christ.” He said, “But what I realized was the theme of God’s unconditional love and the confidence and what it did in my life.”

And he said, “You know, I wrote all that out. It took me about forty-five minutes or an hour, I wrote it all out and it got real clear.” He said, “The next day I was with a fellow at work who was a brand new Christian whose wife was not a follower of Christ. He invited me, ‘Do you want to grab dinner with my wife and I?’ And now he says, so I go, we eat dinner together, and the conversation went around self-confidence.

“And I’ve been a very confident person and his wife turned to me and said, ‘Where do you get such self-confidence?’” And he said, “I realized I get God’s self-confidence from His unconditional love. And in about the next three and a half to five minutes I shared what my life was like, how I met Christ personally, the theme of His unconditional love.”

And he said, “You know, it was so freely and so well received. Even though I’d been a Christian since I was seven,” he goes, “I’ve never shared my story.”

So, all I want to tell you, as we go, I’m trying to set you up. Are you getting the idea? Are you kind of getting the idea? This isn’t like, “Hey, I’m going to listen to this. I might do this someday, someway. I’m really trying to say, “Do it.” You’re a trophy of God’s grace. God wants you to be able to tell your story. It’s the simplest and maybe the most powerful way you’ll ever share His love with people. People that you care about.

So are you ready? I want, you’re story is, “What was your life like before Christ?” And when you make your outline I encourage you to write it out. But I’m an outline person. So you might bullet point it first.

You want to talk about some external issues. If there was a movie camera following you around before your life, before you met Christ, I mean, where did you grow up, and what was going on, and what were you doing, and what was your vocation, and were you single, or were you married, or this was your job. I mean, just give people snapshots. This is externally what your life looked like.

And then if somehow there was a little internal recorder that could record the things of your heart, and the struggles, and what you felt, and what was going on inside, and what you feared. Then you want to talk about some of the internal stuff. What was going on inside?

And then the final thing you want to do, is you want to talk about the realization of your need. No one ever puts their faith in Christ until at some point, at some time, they realize, “You know, I need God. I really need to be forgiven. I need hope.”

And so, you know, what was it? What was it that began to move you to realize you had a need?

And then second, you want to tell how did you personally come to know Christ? And if you answer these questions again with a few bullet points. What caused you to consider Christ as a solution to your need? Usually, there’s some exposure. Usually you met a person.

For some of us, I don’t know about you, I had never opened the Bible in my life until I was eighteen years old. And I literally said, I don’t know if this is true or not but I’m going to examine it.

But what caused you to consider? What motivated you to finally trust Christ? What was the tipping point? What happened in your life?

And for some of us it’s a tragedy. For others it’s someone walked out on us. Sometimes we went through a really difficult time. I’ve met people that have really hit bottom or by contrast I meet people that really hit it out of the park. And they just thought, “If I ever accomplish this, or had that, or married him, or lived there, or earned that much, or got that degree, wow!” And then they get to that and they go, “Wow, this, is this all there is?” And that was a turning point.

What, if you had to write yours down, what would it be?

And then be specific about where and how you actually put your faith in Christ. I mean, when Paul did it he even tells us what language. He gives us the actual words. “It was a noonday sun. It was brighter than the sun. We fell to the ground.”

I mean, when I get to share my story, when I get done, my prayer is that if someone could listen to what I did, it’s specific enough that even if I didn’t explain it they could say, “You know what? I think I could do what he did. I could put my faith in Christ the way I heard Chip,” or you put your name in there.

And then finally if there’s a key verse, God’s word never returns void. If you can specifically give people, here’s a core verse that, sort of, summarizes your journey. It’ll be different for different ones.

And then finally how did your life change after trusting Christ? And you’ll want to get that movie camera back out and look at the external issues. You know, what happened in the things that are external and that people can see?

And by the way, share, be honest. You don’t ever have to improve on what God’s done. We don’t have to exaggerate. Just tell people honestly and candidly what’s occurred that they can see on the outside, that you can see. What’s occurred and changed on the inside? And then this is really important. Share honestly where you still struggle.

I’ve heard people share their testimony that, when I’ve heard them and I think they must already be in heaven. “My life was a wreck, I met Jesus, everything is great.” I’ve never met a Christian that everything is great.

He didn’t promise to make everything great. He didn’t promise that you’ll never have any problems. He promised that, progressively, we’d change. He promised He’d give us hope in the midst of lots of real difficulty.

So we gotta be careful that we share very honestly about what God has done but that it’s still a journey. Does that make sense?

Okay, what I thought I would do is give a, sort of a shot at, those are the principles. So let me just take a moment and I’ll share my story using this outline, okay? You’ve probably heard parts of it here and there but if I was sitting down and we had a cup of coffee and I said, “Hey! Where did you grow up?” And you told me where you grew up. “And so what was it like growing up?” And you told me a little bit about your family and this and that.

And then just normal or casually you might say, “Well, Chip, tell me a little bit about your life.” Externally what I’d say is: Well I grew up in a home, parents were school teachers and we were, in general, kind of, pretty moral. My mom was an amazing person. A guidance counselor. My dad, you know, ex-Marine, Guam, Iwo Jima, a science teacher. He was a great athlete so I was really, you know, pushed and admired and wanted to be a good athlete.

And my dad was one of those guys that I never heard him say, ‘I love you’ until late in his life. I never, he wasn’t a hugger. But I knew he loved me and the way he loved me was, in that generation is he would help you become successful. If you did really well that’s the way you got loved.

And so he hit grounders until they would bounce off my face and if I got four As and a B we had a deep talk about what happened with the B. And it was real, I mean, that was his love language. It was, “I really want you to do well’ because I learned in my house early that if there’s a theme it was, ‘If you can become successful then you’ll really be happy. And I want to help you be successful.

“And the way you’re successful is this, it’s real easy, you know? You get up earlier than everybody else, you set very clear goals, you develop a strategy to get there, and when they’re sleeping you work. And when they go to bed, you keep working. And I’ll tell you what, son, you’ll be successful and when you’re successful, you’ll be happy.”

And so I became a workaholic by the time I was thirteen, I had six or seven yards, three paper routes at one time. I lent my parents three thousand dollars when I was thirteen years old, at six percent interest. I decided, I read an article about Pete Maravich when I was about seventh grade and I saw all the drills that he did and started doing those drills for about eight or nine hours a day and decided, “I’m going to date a pretty cheerleader, I’m going to get a basketball scholarship, I’m going to graduate in the top of my class, I’m going to be in this club, and be all-league in this and that.”

And I went like an absolute wild man after that. I didn’t do any drugs, I didn’t do any alcohol, I was too busy. But internally I was desperately insecure, I was very short and very skinny so I had that little chip on my shoulder trying to prove myself.

I was very mouthy, very arrogant, had a real foul mouth, and was really lonely inside because my dad began to drink more and more and more as I got older. And I just had a big wound I didn’t know about. But that’s what my life was like.

So the realization of my need came the night that I graduated from high school. I vividly remember sitting in an empty apartment off Ohio State’s campus with about twenty-five or thirty people and as a, in those days they called it a “reefer” a “joint,” whatever you call it. But they were passing it around, and we were telling stories about high school, and as it came around a gal named Jackie turned to me and said, “You must be very happy tonight.”

And she was one of those girls that was a friend, and we were in a lot of study halls together, and we talked honestly and I remember turning and saying, “Well, why do you say that?” And because we talked she goes, “Well, you know, you did well in school, you date that cute, little cheerleader, you got a scholarship.” And she named a few things.

And I didn’t realize, see, every single person pursues something or someone that you believe is going to make you happy. Everyone behaves in a way that makes sense to them. Even if you don’t articulate it, even if you don’t think it through your behavior, your energy, your time, your money – it all, I mean, if you could put it all together, all of us go towards something that makes sense.

I didn’t realize the mantra was, “If you work hard and are successful, you’ll be happy.” And when she said that it was like a light came on. And I didn’t feel happy, I felt empty.
So let me just take a moment and I’ll share my story using this outline, okay? You’ve probably heard parts of it here and there but if I was sitting down and we had a cup of coffee and I said, “Hey! Where did you grow up?” And you told me where you grew up. “And so what was it like growing up?” And you told me a little bit about your family and this and that.

And then just normal or casually you might say, “Well, Chip, tell me a little bit about your life.” Externally what I’d say is: Well I grew up in a home, parents were school teachers and we were, in general, kind of, pretty moral. My mom was an amazing person. A guidance counselor. My dad, you know, ex-Marine, Guam, Iwo Jima, a science teacher. He was a great athlete so I was really, you know, pushed and admired and wanted to be a good athlete.

And my dad was one of those guys that I never heard him say, ‘I love you’ until late in his life. I never, he wasn’t a hugger. But I knew he loved me and the way he loved me was, in that generation is he would help you become successful. If you did really well that’s the way you got loved.

“And the way you’re successful is this, it’s real easy, you know? You get up earlier than everybody else, you set very clear goals, you develop a strategy to get there, and when they’re sleeping you work. And when they go to bed, you keep working. And I’ll tell you what, son, you’ll be successful and when you’re successful, you’ll be happy.”

And so I became a workaholic by the time I was thirteen, I had six or seven yards, three paper routes at one time. I decided, “I’m going to date a pretty cheerleader, I’m going to get a basketball scholarship, I’m going to graduate in the top of my class, I’m going to be in this club, and be all-league in this and that.”

And I went like an absolute wild man after that. And was really lonely inside because my dad began to drink more and more and more as I got older. And I just had a big wound I didn’t know about. But that’s what my life was like.

So the realization of my need came the night that I graduated from high school. A gal named Jackie turned to me and said, “You must be very happy tonight.”

I remember turning and saying, “Well, why do you say that?” And because we talked she goes, “Well, you know, you did well in school, you date that cute, little cheerleader, you got a scholarship.” And she named a few things.

And I didn’t realize, see, every single person pursues something or someone that you believe is going to make you happy. Everyone behaves in a way that makes sense to them. Even if you don’t articulate it, even if you don’t think it through your behavior, your energy, your time, your money – it all, I mean, if you could put it all together, all of us go towards something that makes sense.

I didn’t realize the mantra was, “If you work hard and are successful, you’ll be happy.” And when she said that it was like a light came on. And I didn’t feel happy, I felt empty. Because I had already decided the next set of goals. I’ve already decided I’m going to major in political science, I’ll be a lawyer, I’ll be very rich, I’m going to marry a beautiful girl, I will have a luxury car, a station wagon, an Irish Setter, three beautiful kids. By age thirty-five I’ll be a leader in the community. I mean…

And that night I realized I had fifteen years and I do the next set of goals and my life will be maybe ten times more empty than it is right now.

So I drove home and looked at the stars and I had given up on organized religion because all the Christians I met were phony. And it wasn’t a church that taught God’s Word. And I was disillusioned with God, and disillusioned with people, but I looked at the stars and said, “If there is a God, reveal yourself to me.”

This is my actual prayer. It’s not like I’m cussing in church but this was my prayer (my dad was a science teacher):

“There must be some designer behind all this design of all these stars.  And I’ve heard about God but I don’t know if you exist. But if you exist, and if you’re big enough to reveal yourself to me, in a way that I can understand, and you actually created me, I will do whatever you want. If you don’t exist or if you’re not big enough to reveal yourself, in a way that makes sense, I’m going to live like hell and I’m going to die young and I’m going to squeeze as much fun… I’m tired of just being a moral person out of some code that doesn’t make any sense.”

Within a week, I was told by the guy I was going to start my summer job with that the job was delayed a week. We were going to paint a house. Next day, the football coach said, “I’d like to send you to this camp. I’ll pay your way. It’s called the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, there are six hundred of the best high school basketball players from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia.”

Sports sounded good, someone’s going to pay your way, I went, and then it was like, “What have I done?” This is how I met Christ. What caused me to consider a solution was I was desperately lonely, insecure, and my performance orientation of “no matter what you do doesn’t measure up,” and I’m starting to learn success doesn’t necessarily equal happiness.

I land and they, there’s six hundred guys and they gave me a Bible, it said, “Good News for Modern Man,” and I’d never read the Bible before. And then they gave me a t-shirt with a cross on it. And I heard, in the first twenty minutes, people say Jesus’ name, like, out loud like He was a real person. And I thought, “I have been dropped into the land of Jesus Freaks. What have I done?”

It’s 1972, they’re going to indoctrinate me, these are the weird people, I’ve read about these people, they’re weird, I want to play basketball but this is nuts. For the first two days I didn’t open my Bible, I refused to do any of the religious stuff they did.

But every morning, after some workouts, a guy would read a paragraph from the Bible and explain it, and it actually made sense, in words you could understand.

The biggest thing was I got exposure to God’s Word, I saw people - in my world, Christians were weak, anti-intellectual, people that need a crutch, and mostly women. I never saw any masculine, strong person that I would ever, ever want to be like and had the word Christian or Jesus in the same sentence - and now I’m working out with guys that are pro athletes, and college athletes, and high school athletes from all over. And I respected them. I heard Tom Landry share his testimony.

But the big moment for me was I remember after about four days and realizing, because I thought they were faking it, this must be a big act, for two or three days. And no one can be this kind and loving.

And I remember two guys walking off a grass workout field, we’d been working out all day and I can still remember the green shorts, he was a wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons and he was walking with the fullback from Illinois. And I was this skinny maybe a hundred and thirty-five, hundred and thirty-eight pounds just skinny, little white kid who was a basketball jones trying to do what I wanted to do.

And I’m about ten feet behind them, I can hear parts of the conversation. And this wide receiver, big guy, put his hand on the shoulder and I heard a conversation between a grown man and a grown man that expressed deep, intimate love for one another that was masculine. And I’d never seen it before in my life.

I didn’t know the verse that said that I would know that Jesus came from God because Christians loved one another.

Later on, that fullback would sing the Lord’s Prayer the very last night. And I didn’t even know what was happening. I had never opened anything but after watching that I finally gave in and so I decided on one of the mornings, every morning you were to read your Bible for, like, ten minutes and so I opened the Bible for the very first time.

And you all will get a kick out of this knowing me now. These are the first words I ever read, good news. “I urge you, therefore, my dear friends, in view of God’s wonderful kindness and grace to you that you should offer your body as a living sacrifice to Him. This is what God really wants from you. Don’t be conformed or molded any longer to the ways of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that your life and how you really live would demonstrate what God’s will looks like – that which is good, acceptable, and perfect.

“And through the grace given to me I say to every one of you: Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to think but to think as to have sound judgment as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

Does that sound familiar? It’s the first time I ever read the Bible and it was like a video camera went on and I could see me acting tough in the locker room and cussing and then I could see me acting like the all-American boy with teachers and acting sweet with girls and it was like this video tape of this phony person that I hated, always trying to figure out what to give different groups, seeing this chameleon socially and this manipulator who was desperately insecure and longing for love and for the first time ever someone put their finger on it.

And he sang the Lord’s Prayer that night and when he got done singing the Lord’s Prayer because it was the same guy I heard talking to that wide receiver a guy got up and drew a picture with some chalk and he said that God loved me and after he told me that God loved me he said he proved it by sending Jesus, His Son.

And after he drew this picture of Jesus, His Son, somehow he made this picture of a tomb and with the lighting it opened up and he talked about that this Jesus rose from the dead and that He would offer me peace and life and forgiveness and that He was standing at the door and knocking at my heart, Revelation 3:20.

And if I would open the door of my life and my heart Jesus would actually come into my life in the person of the Holy Spirit, forgive me forever, seal me with His Spirit, give new direction and purpose to my life, and make me heaven bound.

And I prayed a prayer but I wasn’t theologically very smart or sound but I said, “God, I don’t get it all but here’s what I know. Whatever it means for you to come into my life, forgive me of my sin, that’s what I want more than anything else. So will you come in?”

And that’s what happened in my life. The change that happened was I went home and I took this little Bible they gave me and I read through the New Testament. And there was just something that happened that I can’t explain externally. And in about ten days to two weeks my tongue, something happened. Because I cussed worse than a sailor.

That was just one of the external things. I didn’t cuss anymore. Where did that go? And then I’ll never forget, my desires changed externally.

And I had just turned eighteen and the laws had just changed so you could go hang out in bars and you’re eighteen years old and, you know, I’ve read the Bible now, like, for five days. And so the guys, “C’mon, guys, let’s go.” And so we hit some very sleazy bar.

And I remember getting up and going, “Guys, man, I’m going to, I’m going to cut. I gotta chill. I gotta get out of here.” “Man, come on, have another!” I said, “I don’t understand it. I just…”

And I remember walking out that door and getting in my little green Volkswagen and driving away and thinking, “I have no idea what’s going on but I don’t want to be near it.”

God began to … He changed me from the inside out.

Now, internally, you talk about continued struggles. I had plenty of them but I had peace, I had a sense of forgiveness, and probably the greatest gift for me was I didn’t have to pretend. Someone loved me and forgave me. I could be Chip, the same Chip with a girl. The same Chip with my family. The same Chip in the locker room.

It was freedom. I didn’t know the verse that you’ll know the truth and the truth will set you free. All I knew was it was just like the entire weight of the world was off my shoulders. Now, I’d love to say that from that moment on I’ve never felt like I had to perform to earn the favor or please people.

In fact, the good part about beginning to read the Bible was this transformational change, the bad part was if you would have asked me two weeks before I trusted Christ, “Are you a good person?” Ninety-ninth percentile! I’ve never killed anyone, right? I live in America, I vaguely believe there must be a God.

And then I started to read the Scriptures and I realized how sinful, how selfish, how manipulative, how lustful. I began to realize that all my sin had to do with stuff inside my head and it was despicable in God’s eyes. But that He loved me and that He forgave me.

That’s my story. Now I can tell that in about three minutes or I can tell it in about eleven like I just did. And you know what? It’s not real dramatic. But it’s mine. And I’m a trophy of God’s grace and I’ve shared that story thousands of times in the last thirty years. And I’ve seen scores of people who, for some reason, made a connection with my story and realized my little story was a bridge between this ocean of God’s love, the person of Christ, and their need. What would happen if each one of us would say, “Lord, I commit thirty, or forty-five minutes, or an hour and I’m going to outline my story, at least, or I’m going to write it out and I’m going to be prepared.

What if you wrote yours out and then it was ready, and then what you’ll find is the Spirit of God…  people will ask you questions that will lead to your story and, and you know what? It’s not preachy. It’s just your story.

Let me just give you some very specific tips. Number one: Develop a theme – the central issue in your life that shows the contrast in your spiritual outlook before Christ and then after.

My theme, vey interestingly, is that whole thing about success equals happiness. Now, when I’m playing hoop and sitting like I did yesterday, and talk with someone, I use the basketball illustrations.

When I’m sitting with an executive and we’re kicking stuff around I talk about my workaholism, in my work. Both of those are my story but the theme is the same.

Second, outline, keep it clear and simple. The power is in what God has done.

Third, end with a question or statement that requires a response. You know, the apostle Paul said, “King Agrippa, you believe in the prophets, don’t you?” I’ll often share, when I get done with my story, “So what do you think? Have you ever investigated the Bible?”

I’m often way more committed to someone saying, “You know what? I’d read the book of John with you. Want to kick that around?” than I am them, “I’ve never heard anything about God and I’m going to pray a prayer.” You just need to be discerning. But just ask them, “Would you like to explore? That’s my story. Would you like to explore God’s story for you?”

Fourth, Scripture, think of one verse that opened your eyes and share how it impacted you. Revelation 3:20 for me was just like, “You’re,” I mean, forgive this but, “you’re kidding me! God lives inside of you? He will come in?

Length: Be brief and to the point. You could always share more but write it out where you can share it briefly. Attitude: Share, don’t preach. Okay? Just, it’s your heart. You don’t have to convince, you know? It’s not your job. Just, “This is what God did in me, this is where I was, this is how I met Him, here’s what’s changed.”

Sensitivity: Focus on the other person and share aspects of your life that relate to their interest and needs. As you get better, and share it more and more, you’ll just find that there’s a lot to your story, isn’t there?

And you can pull from this part of your story, or that part of your story, but just be sensitive. And share the parts of your story that connect with what’s going on in their life.

And then finally, focus, make Jesus the star of your story. I’ve, at times, heard a story of a testimony and ninety percent of it is, “This is my life before,” and it’s kind of like, you know, in the name of sharing Christ you hear all the stuff that you’re really not sure you want to hear that much.

And then pretty soon the person is the star of the story. The star of your story is the Son of God. The star of your story is His love and forgiveness. The star of your story is that whether you came out of a great environment, or a very difficult environment, He’s the Savior of the world, and He’s your friend, and He is God.

And He has done that for you and He longs to do that for the person you’re talking to.

And so let me encourage you, would you be willing, this week, to block off forty-five minutes and write your story? And then would you be willing just to say, “I’ve got it, Lord. If You’ll open the door I will naturally, lovingly, share my story with the person as You lead me.”