Not the Full Weight

[This article was written by Pastor Steven Furtick]


I recently read somewhere that when it comes to art, “the artist only has 50% of responsibility in creation.” The person who engages with the art has the other 50%.

The painter paints. The viewer views.
The author writes. The public reads.
The band plays. The people listen.

In each case, the artist is only responsible for 50% of the transaction. How the person engaging with the art responds is their decision. And it’s not something that any of us can control. Some people will respond positively. Some negatively. It’s their choice.

The same principle applies when we share the gospel. When we share our faith, we only carry 50% of the responsibility. And this applies whether we’re witnessing to one person, or preaching to crowds of thousands.

This reality should be liberating. As long as you faithfully and adequately deliver your 50%, you don’t have to feel the full weight of responsibility for the other person. I’ve met some people who carry a heavy weight of guilt because of the people in their lives who have yet to find life in Christ. They feel that it’s their fault their family or friends are going to hell.

Their problem is they have a God-complex. A compassionate one, but a God-complex nonetheless. They want to have complete control of the 100%. But the truth is we don’t. No person has complete control over how other people respond to the gospel.

It’s good to feel the weight of people’s souls. It’s motivating to your 50%. But it’s bad to carry around the weight of their will. That’s coveting their 50%. And it will load a weight of guilt upon you that you were never meant to bear. Jesus wants to bear their guilt. If they don’t believe, they will bear it. For your own sake, don’t take something that’s not yours to carry.

It can be frustrating and heartbreaking. There are going to be times when you want more for the people you’re sharing your faith with than they want for themselves. Times when you wish you could have 100% of the control.

But you don’t. You can only control what you do with your 50%.

  • Maybe you’ve been sharing your faith with a friend for years. But he keeps going further away.
  • Maybe you’ve been trying to convey the gospel with your parents. But every time they just change the subject.
  • Maybe you’ve been preaching your heart out, but no one seems to be responding.

Don’t give up. The next time could be the time.
Give 100% to your 50%.
Pray for them like you’ve never prayed before.
And give them room to exercise their 50%.


This entry was originally posted December 8, 2010 at

Making It Personal

picture courtesy of Google ImagesSometimes I get so very frustrated with the way Christianity is portrayed to the world. More often than not, I see a Christianity that isn’t anywhere close to the one Jesus modelled and taught us to live out. And this hurts the overall message.

Hypocrisy, legalism, shame, and condemnation are rampant. But is this how Jesus behaved? Did He worship in His Father’s house with His hands raised and eyes closed, and then go out to lunch with the Disciples and laugh about the Pharisees behind their backs? Did He condemn the sinners He met, like the woman at the well who was on her 5th man, or the tax collectors, or the woman who’d been caught in adultery? Did Jesus stand on the street-corners holding a sign that read, “Repent, or you’re all going to hell”?

The answer to all of the above is: NO.

Jesus was (and still is) gentle, kind, loving, patient. He convicts us of sin, but He never condemns us. He does say that the consequences of sin is death (eternal punishment), but also that all who believe in Him can be saved! He doesn’t preach this message with a sense of shame or condemnation, but with a soft plea spoken out of the depths of His love for all of us… not JUST Christians, but every single person on the planet.

I know so many people who have walked away from, or just flat-out rejected, Christianity, because they think…

• “If that’s what Christianity is all about, I want no part of it.”
• “If being a Christian means I have to be like so-and-so, no thanks.”
• “Being a Christian will mean I can’t have fun any more — so, forget it.”

But, they have seen this “false” pseudo-Christianity, not the real thing. They have no idea how good it can really be. It’s not all about giving up the good times, or walking around all uptight, or about acting all better-than-thou, or converting everyone you see.

It’s about a friendship with Jesus… a man who was so compelling that people couldn’t help but be drawn to Him… the only One who will never, ever hurt or betray you… the only “friend” who can offer the deepest satisfaction and sense of peace.

I loved this article, written by Abby Johnson. She’s talking about the latest news regarding abortion doctor, Kermit Gosnell, but she gives a very good picture of the difference between the false, “pious” Christianity, and the REAL, grace-full Christianity that I’m talking about.

A blog post from Abby’s blog {read the full post here} had this little paragraph tucked inside it, and it, too, says what I’m trying to say — shows the difference:

{…“Well, one of our [church] members took her to the Target Café to share the Gospel with her.” So, no material assistance was offered for her or her baby? No resources offered for where she could receive assistance? No phone calls made to maternity homes or pro-life groups in the area? “No,” the woman responded. “Just the meeting at Target to talk about the Lord.”

Well, isn’t that fantastic. I’m sure the Gospel will find her a hospital to deliver her baby in. I’m sure the Gospel will help her with food to nourish her body during the last few weeks of her pregnancy. I’m sure the Gospel will help keep her safe from harm as she sleeps outside night after night. Their answer made me disgusted. How can we expect to nourish someone spiritually when their physical needs aren’t met? How can we expect someone to be receptive to the Gospel when they go physically hungry during the day? How can we expect someone to believe in the mighty power of Christ when they don’t know if they will be forced to deliver their baby in an alley somewhere? This is Christianity? This is how we treat those in need of help? Certainly not. That is not what faith is about. James clearly states that “faith without works is dead.” What is faith if we are not willing to step out of our comfort zone and get our hands dirty in service to Christ? We are called to be the “hands and feet of Christ,” right? That means service to those who need him…not just words…actions.}

Precisely. The REAL Christianity is one of compassion and love. It is actions and service. It is modeling Jesus’ actions and love to a hurting world around us. NOT condemnation. NOT shame. NOT ignoring needs because it makes you uncomfortable.



For further reading, check out Acts 2. This is the story of the first community of Christian believers.


ThomasGary_PurePleasureLast week, in one of her blog posts, Holley Gerth mentioned a book by Gary Thomas called “Pure Pleasure“. I like Gary’s writing, and this book sounded good, so I asked my local library to inter-library loan a copy for me — which they did. And already, it is good! Here’s a quote that I loved:

“We can build lives of true, lasting pleasure, and so fortify ourselves against evil because evil has lost much of its allure — or we can try, with an iron will, to ‘scare’ ourselves away from evil while still, deep in our hearts, truly longing for it. Which life do you want to live?” (p.15)

The book also said:

“In a progressive journey of faith, God gradually re-centers our desires toward holy pleasures, spiritually good and healthy things that leave us satisfied and full, so that sin begins to lose much (but never all) of its appeal.” (p.24)

Basically, it’s saying that we need to be so saturated with God in our lives that we want what He wants for us, and then the joy of living for Him so far outweighs the pull of sin that we aren’t even going to be interested in straying from our faith! It’s like having two platters to choose from: the deep, soul-satisfying life God has for us, or the worldly pleasures… which will we choose?

The world’s problem (and even some Christians’ problem) is that they think the Christian life couldn’t possibly be satisfying enough — it looks boring, dull, and so lacking in fun! But in reality, God’s way is the only way that truly fulfills at the soul level and never leaves you wanting. It is completely satisfying!

If only people could get just a taste of this! Those worldly pleasures would totally lose their appeal.

Taste & see that the Lord is good!” – Psalm 34:8

Stronger Than It Seems

Today, in my Inbox, I received a post from Sarah Markley’s blog, titled, “When Life & God Split Us“. Reading through it, I was like, “Aha! That is exactly it!

I tried to write a somewhat similar post a while back, but it didn’t come out exactly right. Sarah’s post says it so much better! I liked where she wrote:

And maybe Jesus also sets us free from legalism-speak, and free from extra Praise-The-Lords and If-It’s-In-His-Will’s. Maybe I don’t have to say those things at every breath to still be called Daughter and Sister!

It doesn’t mean that I don’t love God. In fact, for me it means the opposite.

She also writes:

…to show that I can still love Jesus and drink a glass of good wine, that I can still believe well and not use language dripping with Christian-speak...

…and this…

…the Holy Spirit can indwell me even when my faith is a little outside of the box.

Yes, yes, YES! This is just how I feel! Just because my faith looks different from what you imagine it should look like, doesn’t mean that I don’t have a strong faith in God. It doesn’t mean that I am backslidden.

My own faith has always been “a little outside of the box“. I think that’s why I don’t get along well with a lot of other Christians, and why I’ve lost certain friendships — or, as Sarah says, our faith has “split us”. People are always afraid of what’s “different”.

It’s not that I try to be contrary, or different. I just don’t buy into the need to use Christian-speak, or the need to keep my stuff all locked up so that the outside looks “shiny” and “perfect”. I can’t stand people who pretend that their life is totally fine and they don’t have any problems. That isn’t reality. Sure, your outlook on life can be positive! But, you can’t tell me that you don’t have any problems, ’cause I’m not buying it. Not in the least.

Who says we have to pretend we have it all together?

Who says we have to not have any flaws in order to be called “Christian”?

Jesus said, “In this world you will have troubles… but take heart, I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33)

I hate that our faith splits us. But, if it means that my faith is real and authentic, so be it. I’d much rather live authentically, then pretend to have it all together and find out I wasn’t as close to God as I thought.

Asked to Trust

It’s a dangerous thing to walk closely with the God of the Universe. You just never know what He’s going to ask of you next!

God has been teaching me a lot about trusting Him, lately. That’s actually my “One Word” for 2013… Trust.


The crazy thing is, you think you can just give God this area or that one of your life, and you’ll be all good. But, no. He then asks you for those parts that you didn’t want to hand over… the ones you don’t think you’re ready to let go of, yet.

He isn’t demanding. He just quietly holds out His hand, and says, “Please? Will you let Me have that?” And, I know that to give it to Him will release me… it will bring freedom and huge blessings. Every one of the people in the Bible who trusted God experienced these HUGE blessings for doing so! Just check out Hebrews chapter 11! But, it’s one of the hardest things in the world to do… to let go.

Just this past week, God has asked me to trust Him with one of the biggest fears in my life. It’s had me under its sway for about 11 years now. And, I thought I’d gotten past the worst of it — until last night, when I fell apart because of it, again.

But, it’s not just this thing, this fear. In the last week, God has asked me to trust Him with three (3) other huge things in my life… ones that I really didn’t want to give over. I realized, though, that I can give them to Him. I know He’ll take care of them. But, this last one — this fear? This is hard… maybe harder than all of the other three combined. 😦

The problem is, I can say I trust God, and that I know He’s trustworthy. I can say that I’m getting to know His character well enough (through my Bible reading, study, and our personal chats). But He will almost always ask me to prove it. I can’t just say it with my lips — I have to live it with my life. As writers often quote, “Show, don’t tell.”

So, it looks like I may have to hold His hand super-tightly, and face my biggest fear. I’ve got a little time to prepare, but I have a feeling He’s not going to let this go. I’m going to have to take a huge leap of faith, and believe that God is who He says He is, and He can do what He says He can do. I have to believe the things He’s promised me, and just go. It’s not going to be easy — at ALL! But, I know — yes, I know — it will be totally worth it.

…close my eyes, and leap!


courtesy of Google Images (sneak peek)Reading that post title, you probably think I’m going to talk about the end times, or the book of the Bible that discusses such things, right? Nope. Not even close, actually.

Instead, I wanted to share just a snippet — a sneak peek — of what God’s been doing in my life.

Back in October of 2005, I was walking closely with the Lord, and loving it. It was “well with my soul“, even though it wasn’t necessarily well with my circumstances. My marriage has never been the fairytale that I’d dreamed about as a girl, or close to what the Bible says a marriage union should be. It is difficult most days, and down right unbearable on others. I have cried out to God on many occasions that I just cannot take another day, and to please have mercy on me.

Well, at this time, I received what I can only term a “word” from the Lord. I can’t go into detail about it, but let’s just say that God let me know that He heard me, and that He was planning to act. And I was given a time frame: He would show Himself mighty in my life, sometime before December 2014.

Since then, I have had to do a lot of research. God has taught me how to “test everything” against Scripture. He has taught me about guy/girl relationships, and Christian marriage (my husband is not a believer). And, God has taught me how to give Him the pen to script my story, without manipulation from me. Admittedly, He and I are still working on those things. I often try to grab that pen back and write bits by myself. But, I’m constantly reminded, nowadays, of how I make such a mess of things when I try to do it my way… of how much better and more wonderful it is when God writes the story!

Recently, I have drawn even closer to the Lord. I credit His having me read Wally Armstrong’s book, “Practicing the Presence of Jesus“, as it made such a huge difference in my faith-walk. And, because of this closeness, I’m able to ask God things, and almost immediately — sometimes — hear/receive an answer.

In fact, I recently asked God for a “sign” of something to come — part of this “word” I received from Him about my future that wasn’t fully revealed at first. I even went so far as to ask God for something very specific, so as to be sure I wouldn’t miss the sign if God chose to bring it to me. Then I waited… it didn’t seem to be coming, which would have meant God was saying “no”. BUT… just when I’d almost forgotten I’d asked, there was the exact sign that I had asked for! And, it was a Scripture verse! But, not just any Scripture verse… It was John 14:12-14 which says:

12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

How like God to add in some humor! I’d asked God for something, believing I’d get an answer, and I received what I had asked for — just like this verse says! And, as if that wasn’t enough, the next day I was browsing through an online magazine, and came across this exact same verse, plus two others that say basically the same thing! {Matthew 21:21 & 1 John 5:14}.

God doesn’t mind giving us signs, so long as we aren’t looking for them because we question His authority. Or, at least, that’s what I’ve found in my research.

As part of the “word” I received, I was also given a sign to prove that what I’d heard was from God. And it has since come to pass… in a way that there is not a doubt in my mind that it was Him who spoke to me. There is no way I could have known what I did, otherwise.

So, I am holding out hope. Things are looking brighter every day, and I know my God is for me.

“But I am trusting You, O Lord, saying ‘You are my God!’
My future is in Your hands.”
Psalm 31:14,15a

Experiencing God ~ a poem to wrap it up

Our ladies’ Bible study of Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” is about to wrap up. Our group leader has asked me to contribute by providing a poem, prayer, or blessing to give to the ladies … something they can take home with them at the end of the study.

Well, I’ve been searching through the Internet for something like this, and just not finding what I’m looking for. And, I’ve gone through numerous books in my own collection, and still haven’t found what I’m looking for. So, I finally gave up — and wrote my own poem to sum up “Experiencing God“. I based it off the “7 Realities” found throughout the book. 😉

You are at work through every aspect
Of our daily lives
If we’d just pay attention, wait
And open up our eyes

You lovingly pursue us, call us
Into loving arms
Your love is real and personal
Not fake and full of charms

We all have been invited
To do what we see You do
You’ll do a God-sized work through us
And it’ll change us through and through

You speak to us, Lord, to reveal Your plans
Your purposes and ways
Through the church and prayer and circumstances
Your Word comes to life today

Sometimes we get to doubting
That what we’ve heard is from You
But if we act in faith on what we’ve heard
We’ll know it’s true

You ask us to adjust our lives
To join You in Your plans
We can trust that, if we do so,
You’ll hold us safe in Your hands

As we work to obey You, God
In all you ask, we trust
That the world will be changed for the better
By experiencing God through us.

© 2011, Kate Matthews

Blog-Hopping (Feb.27)

Today I’ve been blog-hopping… and reading articles I’ve found on these new blogs. And, some of them were just soooo good, I had to share!

At, I found this post, the other day, about Why Some People Don’t Like Christians… and it really resonated with me. From there, I found her other post about how church should be more Like Going to a Bar… I’m telling you, this is GOOD READING!

Then, from that blog, I found Leigh’s blog, HopefulLeigh. And, her post, “Defining Me, Defining My Faith” was really inspiring. How do you define your faith? This kind of reminds me of the question asked in a video I was watching at my church, the other night: Have you sat down with Jesus to have the DTR talk? (Defining The Relationship) ~ figuring out where you stand?

And, lastly, I found Rebekah Gilbert’s blog, A New Song to Sing, and really liked her post about Distorted Views. Oh, how many “distorted” views I have! This blog post was convicting.

So, I encourage you today to go on over and read these posts… and hey, come back and let me know what you think! We’ll talk. 😉

What God’s Been Teaching Me Lately… (Feb.27)

Through several sources, the same themes keep popping up… and that almost always means that God is trying to get my attention! 😉

Not only am I learning this stuff from my current Bible study homework (“Experiencing Godby Henry & Richard Blackaby), but I also read it again in my review book, “Lazarus Awakening” by Joanna Weaver… and some of it popped up elsewhere, too!

Lesson 1: We can’t make our plans and then ask God to bless them. Instead, we are to ask God what His plans are, and then join Him in those! (see Proverbs 16:9)

“Part of putting childish ways behind us,
spiritually speaking, involves setting aside
our misconceptions that if God loves us,
He must act according to our specifications,
our scripts, and especially our time lines.”
~ Joanna Weaver, “Lazarus Awakening

Lesson 2: God doesn’t want us following a formula in our faith, or in our relationship with Him.

“I wish I could outline
Ten Easy Steps to Hear God Speak ~ Guaranteed!
That would appeal to our
human craving for formulas.
But God’s communication is far
more individualized and intimate
than anything a self-help bestseller could teach.”
~ Joanna Weaver, “Lazarus Awakening

• Lesson 3: Knowing God better helps me to hear Him better… I need to spend time in growing my relationship with Him.

“Since intimacy with us has always
been God’s goal, it makes sense that
hearing His voice would be linked to that
very thing. The better we get to know Him,
in other words,
the better we hear Him.”
~ Joanna Weaver, “Lazarus Awakening

Lesson 4: God speaks to me, personally.

“…I believe the Lord is speaking to me
more often than I know.
The problem is, I’m not always listening.”
~ Joanna Weaver, “Lazarus Awakening

Lesson 5: God wants a LOVE relationship with me.

“…for I have ransomed you.
      I have called you by name; you are mine
…because you are precious to me.
      You are honored, and I love you
…You have been chosen to know me, believe in me,
      and understand that I alone am God.
…(Isaiah 43:1, 4, 10…)

Lesson 6: God’s silence doesn’t indicate His rejection of me.

“The teacher is always silent during a test.”
~ Joanna Weaver, quoting Diane Freitag,
in “Lazarus Awakening

Lesson 7: I need to know who I am, and WHOSE I am.

“…two very important things we cannot
live without: …identity…and security.”
~ Joanna Weaver, “Lazarus Awakening