Monday, February 17, 2014
Resilient FaithFor so many Christians in the American culture, faith is an easy thing. They go to church, they read the Bible, and they love Jesus. But what happens when their comfortable world is turned upside down? For too many people, their faith is shaken. Faith in Christ can-and should-be constant, because Christ, the One in whom we place our faith, is constant. We all face-or will face-difficult times when we need to stand firm in our Christ-centered faith. The Book of 1 Peter offers the needed understanding of what a resilient faith looks like and how we can stand strong regardless of what comes at us. Ideal for small groups.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Monday, January 13, 2014
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Friday, January 3, 2014
Trevin Wax, of The Gospel Coalition, has featured Mary Jo today in the Kingdom People blog series, "Know Your Southern Baptists." You can check it out here: Know Your Southern Baptists: Mary Jo Sharp.
Others featured in the series: David Platt, Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Fred Luter Jr., Paige Patterson, Jack Graham, and Shai Linne.
Monday, December 30, 2013
Last year, I wrote a session for LifeWay's The Gospel Project on "The Meaning of Life." That session is in the current issue for Winter 2013-2014: "A God-Centered Worldview." My contribution is about meaning and purpose in human lives in a world void of God. It reflects on the writings of King Solomon (Ecclesiastes), the apostle Paul, William Lane Craig, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, and others. It also looks at the value that Jesus' resurrection gives to human life.
Along with the study, I wrote some devotionals. LifeWay Christian Resources has made one devotional available online here: Valuing Life
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Are you uncertain when talking about your faith? Do you stumble over your words when someone asks you what you believe? In this video interview, Mary Jo Sharp, certified apologetics instructor and author of Why Do You Believe That?, discusses the importance of knowing what you believe, the fine art of sharing your faith, and why you should be prepared to defend your faith as a follower of Christ.
Following is the transcript of our interview with Sharp:
LifeWay.com: How can someone be a Christian and not know what they believe?
Certified Apologist Mary Jo Sharp: A person can be a Christian and not know what they believe because maybe they were raised in the church. Maybe they had parents you know that dragged them to Sunday School every Sunday and they really haven't taken ownership of their beliefs. It's being what I call a responsible believer; that you actually know what you believe and why you believe it. Instead you're just kind of going with a tradition, maybe your family tradition. And for me, you know I became a believer and I believe that was a real experience. I was truly convicted, but since I didn't maintain what I believe, I didn't look deeply into my beliefs. Eventually they just sort of faded because those things don't stay fresh in your mind unless you actively pursue that knowledge.
LifeWay.com: If someone doesn't know why they believe what they believe, what is the first step you suggest they take to become more informed?
Mary Jo Sharp: If someone doesn't know why they believe in God they should first of all figure out what it is that they believe. They should ask themselves, "So what is it that I think about God?" "Do I believe that He exists?" "How do I know that?" "Do I believe in a risen Jesus?" "Well, how do I know that Jesus was risen from the dead?"
LifeWay.com: Cultures are different across our country and the world. How does that impact sharing our faith?
Mary Jo Sharp: Cultures can be very different for how you share your faith. Usually though with just talking to people there is a pattern that is true for all people which is that we need to treat people like they're people and not projects. So we get to know the person right where they're at no matter what their culture is. And as we get to know those people that provides information for us to share with them what we believe. And we tread on those commonalities that we have with each other.
LifeWay.com: Does saying, "I don't know," discredit you or Christianity?
Mary Jo Sharp: Saying I don't know does not discredit your Christianity. It doesn't discredit your belief. It's being honest with people. You're only human and you don't have all the answers. You can never have a God's eye view of the world. So we shouldn't expect anyone else or ourselves to have all the answers. And to show that you're an honest person and to show that you're a follower of Jesus who is the Truth, we have to show integrity. When we don't know something we need to be able to say, "I don't know."
LifeWay.com: When it comes to sharing our faith, how can we be better listeners?
Mary Jo Sharp: When it comes to sharing our faith sometimes we're not that good at listening. I'm guilty of this. It's very important though because of the person that you're talking to. They need to be able to speak their mind so they work out their own beliefs, and they start to hear themselves say these things. So they feel like they're being heard and understood by us. And that's so important. If you're going to go out and talk to people about beliefs, they need to know that they're important. Their ideas are important wherever they're at in life with whatever they believe currently in order to have an honest and open conversation with you.
LifeWay.com: When in a conversation about faith, when do you let it go and move on?
Mary Jo Sharp: Sometimes you get into a conversation on faith and it's just time to let it go. And you can usually tell this by body language, by the person getting uncomfortable. If it starts to get heated, if there are a lot of emotions starting to ramp up then it's time for you to let that conversation go, and you'll probably get another chance to talk to the person if you do.
LifeWay.com: Why do we need to be prepared to defend our faith?
Mary Jo Sharp: We need to be prepared to defend our faith first of all for us so that we're answering our own doubts so that we grow in confidence in what we believe. When we're confident we can go out and share with others about our beliefs. The other reason is for our culture. We're living in a time that is becoming highly secularized and the view of Christians in the media is not that good. So we're needing to combat that view and the way we do that is first we have to be confident in our beliefs and defend our own faith, and then we have to go out and share that with others so we can combat that cultural view, that misunderstanding of the Christian faith.
LifeWay.com: Share with us a particularly intimidating or challenging experience of sharing your faith.
Mary Jo Sharp: A particularly intimidating experience when sharing my faith ... This is not going to be like a one-on-one kind of situation, but I did do a debate in a mosque in Toronto with a Muslim woman on the views of women in Islam and Christianity, and our audience was pretty much about 85 percent or more Muslim and the mosque was packed out wall to wall. We had people sitting all over the floor because there were so many people in there. That was one of the most intimidating situations I've ever been in. But it was awesome because I got to share the Gospel of Jesus in the mosque.