How to Make Evangelism a Natural Part of Your Life

Mentor Mama:

Today we are going to be talking about “Living a life that leads others to Jesus.” Have you ever wanted to tell others about your faith . . . but just don’t? Maybe you think you lack the gift of evangelism or believe sharing your faith is more for extroverts, and well, you’re pretty introverted. Maybe you’re nervous about rejection or worry people will be offended. But the truth is, if you know Jesus, you’ve been chosen to live a sent life, a life where evangelism is a natural part. Our guest today, Heather Holleman, who is the co-author with her husband, Ashley, of the book, “Sent: Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus,” will be talking about what it means to live a sent life, how we can live out a sent life daily, and how the Holy Spirt empowers us. She will also share practical ideas for evangelism. But first a word from our sponsor.

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Mentor Mama:

Heather Holleman, Ph.D., Is a popular speaker, author, and college instructor. She is a faculty member of Penn State’s English Department and teaches both freshman composition and advanced writing. Along with teaching, Heather serves on the staff of Faculty Commons with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) and helps direct the graduate student ministry at Penn State. She has received numerous teaching awards and her teaching philosophy finds its roots in what it means to be “seated at the table”. In addition to her full speaking schedule, Heather writes daily inspirational material that reaches thousands through social media on her blog, Live with Flair. Heather lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ashley, and their two daughters. Please welcome Heather!

Heather Holleman:

I am so happy to be with you today. Thank you for having me. This is already such a blessing. Just hearing you do the introduction, I was like, I want to live that way.

Mentor Mama:

We’re delighted to have you. Before we even get started, I have a brief word of encouragement for you, Heather. When I was preparing for this interview, my daughter Taylor was in the room and she saw your name on my screen and she said, “no way! You’re interviewing Heather Holleman?” And I said, “how do you know her?” And she said she read your book called, “Seated with Christ,” and she said it’s absolutely one of her favorite books she’s ever read. And she goes to Moody with stacks of books, two feet high, so I think that’s quite a compliment.

Heather Holleman:

That’s such an encouragement. Thank you for sharing that with me.

Mentor Mama:

For those that are reading this on the blog, we’ll also have a link to that book here. Heather, tell us to start off, what does it mean to live a sent life?

Heather Holleman:

Living a sent life means you wake up every day and because you know Jesus, part of your identity in Christ is that he has a beautiful adventure for you for the day to be an agent of blessing and proclamation to whoever God puts in your path. It makes life just really joyful. It’s what Jesus is doing. He’s seeking and saving the lost. So, when you’re living a sent life, you’re joining with Jesus to seek and save the lost around you.

Mentor Mama:

I love your attitude of joy there. When you look at it from a fresh perspective, that definitely sets the tone and the mood.

Heather Holleman:

Yes.

Mentor Mama:

What do you say to the person who says they don’t have the gift of evangelism?

Heather Holleman:

That is such a great question because the reason why I co-wrote this book with my husband, Ashley, is because he’s an introvert who would claim he really doesn’t have this kind of supernatural, extra gift of evangelism like people would say that I have because I’m an extrovert. I love talking to people about Jesus. It’s very natural for me to enter into any conversation and turn it into spiritual things. But Ashley’s not that way. And so, when he understood his sent identity, he realized that every believer, if you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, every believer has this identity that’s given to them that they’re sent. And so, he agrees with what Scripture says about doing the work of Evangelists. When God called the disciples, he said, follow me and I will send you out to fish for people. So, Ash just took it very seriously that this is a gift for all believers, and so, he steps out in faith every day. He tells the Lord; this is not natural for me, give me courage, give me the ability to enter into the lives of people and he just led our 85-year-old neighbor to the Lord and he does discipleship with him every Friday, this 85-year-old has never read the Bible. What I learned from that is when you’re an introvert who doesn’t claim any kind of special gifting, it’s actually a real privilege because it makes you very dependent on the Lord. It’s not your natural talent and you can often reach people that extroverted people like me (can’t). Sometimes I’m an overwhelming presence to people. So, he’s able to meet with the quieter people, people who just enjoy his presence, maybe when I might be a more overwhelming presence. So, it’s a life of faith, it’s a life of adventure, it’s a life of waking up and saying, God, who is it today that you would want me to bless and talk to about you? So he does that. I do that. It’s more natural for me. He does it more by faith and dependence on the Lord, which is honestly how we all should be thinking about living a sent life.

Mentor Mama:

Yes, absolutely. For those introverts or anybody who’s fearful of sharing Christ, how do we get past that?

Heather Holleman:

Well, the thing I like to tell people is when you’re thinking about this wonderful identity and remember Jesus understood himself as being sent, it’s the number one way he describes the Father in the book of John is the Father who sent me. And so, when I got to John 20:21, when Jesus says, “as the Father has sent me, so I send you,” when you really believe that when you really go about your day and you think, okay, this is who I am. It’s not about shame or guilt or duty that you’re doing this. This is about this joyful missing piece of your identity. So that’s the first step— a mindset shift. The second thing is to realize that essentially, you’re sharing your life with people, telling them your own stories of transformation, asking really good questions about their lives, and then just sharing honestly what God is doing in your own life and I always encourage people to talk about places in Scripture where God is teaching them because God, he uses his Word, you know, Romans 10, faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God. So, a lot of evangelism is simply telling people, hey, this is what God’s doing in my life. I talk about Jesus all the time and no one in the past 25 years has ever said to me, Heather, I wish you would stop talking about Jesus. No one, not once. So, I encourage people to think about how God’s at work in your own life. That is the story God is giving you. Your own unique story that’s unique to you and your family that positions you to speak about Jesus. And so, those two things anyone can do; ask good questions, share your story. Talk about what you’re reading in Scripture every day. And then the technical parts of evangelism anyone can do; that’s training. That’s just learning how to share a Gospel presentation. I sometimes use Cru’s material knowing God personally, some people go to the Billy Graham website, or maybe in church they learned about the Romans road, just how to bring someone into a conversation about what it means to pray to receive Christ? But here’s what I learned; our problem isn’t a lack of training, our problem is a lack of really believing that this is who we are, that there are three core principles that should govern our lives, that changed my life when I realized this: God’s always at work to draw people to himself. Jesus says my father is always at work and he, we know he sent him to change the hearts of men. The second thing you have to believe is that, for whatever reason, God uses people to lead others to Jesus. It is life-changing when you take seriously, for example, 2 Corinthians, that you’re a Christ ambassador as though God is making his appeal through you to other people. Read 2 Corinthians five, actually, the whole book of 2 Corinthians will make you realize this. And then the third principle is that God is continually inviting you into this work no matter where you are and it’s so deep that your first thought when you’re going through suffering or when you’re in a situation you don’t want to be in what I love about the sent identity is you can say, okay, maybe I’m here because someone here doesn’t yet know you, Lord, and so it really helps you take your eyes off yourself. So that’s what I love about the sent identity and overcoming those barriers that you may have.

Mentor Mama:

Absolutely, and your three key points there for those that are reading this, your book really digs deep into those and so, I would encourage our readers to pick up her book too, that will help explore that further. We’ll have the book linked here. One of the things that you do is encourage people to list the names of five people they know who don’t know Christ and to begin praying for them regularly. So tell us about that.

Heather Holleman:

It was a practice I began doing when I was in graduate school at the University of Michigan. It was the first time I was reading passages of Scripture where I really began to change inside. When I read Acts 1:8, where it says you’ll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you to be my witnesses, I thought, okay, I don’t really believe this, but I’m starting to, and I just realized that wherever I was, God was supernaturally using me as an intervening presence. So, in the book, I talk about that very day; I went to the dentist and sure enough, God uses me to lead this dentist to Jesus, and then a person in my department that I was praying for approached me and we had a spiritual conversation. So, I started to think, wait a second, it is no accident who is around me, and what if I began to pray for them the way Paul prays for them. So I thought about where I go every day. So, think dentist, the supermarket, the gym, where you work, and who’s in your family. So think of the sovereign places, think of your neighborhood. You know, in Acts 17, God searches out the exact places where you live. And then I ask God, okay, where are you at work? Who are the people that you put in my heart? So, for 25, 30 years, I’ve written down the names of five people, because five is manageable to me, some people might have ten or three, and I write down their names and I begin the work of asking God for the same things we see in Scripture. There are seven ways you can pray for people who don’t yet know Jesus. You can pray that God gives them a spirit of revelation to know him better. You can pray that God sends others to help. You can pray, you know, Colossians 4, God opens the door for the message of the Gospel. So I pray for them. I pray that God would send other people to help, like I just said, so I love finding out when my friends say, “Heather, you’ll never believe it. I met someone and she’s just like you, she’s a Christian too, and she’s been talking to me about Jesus.” That always makes me feel good. So, I love that, and as soon as someone prays to receive Christ, I cross them off the list and add the next person. So, I love that, and it also focuses my time in the prayer journal. I love your podcast because you talk, and your website talks a lot about the disciplines of reading your Bible and journaling. My prayer journal is just a beautiful way to remember that it’s no accident where you are. You don’t have to be obsessed with yourself every day. You can take your eyes off yourself, think about the people around you, and pray for them. So, I do gratitude, I ask God for the things I need for the day, and then I move right into the five people who don’t yet know Jesus and then you can have that as part of your quiet time every day.

Mentor Mama:

I love that. That ties so beautifully into a sermon that our pastor gave one time where he called it the three fives: pray for five people, five minutes a day, five days a week. So that’s something that I actually had listed as a tip in our prayer journal too. As you said, if you think about all the people that you interact with on a day-to-day basis, your network can get pretty vast and you can really make an impact. Tell me about this survey that was released in 2019, which showed that 47% of Christians believed it was wrong to share their faith, especially the Millennials.

Heather Holleman:

Yes, and by the way, I’ve seen a shift in that. I feel like Generation Z is more okay with having strong convictions and telling people about them, whereas the Millennial survey was more like, no, we don’t want to offend anyone. You don’t want to ever hurt anyone’s feelings. Everyone has the right to believe what they believe. I mean, that’s fine. those attitudes feel like they’re rooted in love, but the problem is to say that it’s wrong to have a conviction and to want to introduce people to the love of Christ, it’s a misunderstanding of what Evangelism is and it’s a misunderstanding of how, when you’re inviting people to consider the claims of Christ and to talk about Jesus, it’s one of the most loving things you can do, and people love it. Sometimes when I just say, I would love to hear your spiritual journey, I would love to hear what you think about God. Sometimes people burst into tears because they feel so loved. And they’ll say, well, what about you? What do you believe? And they’ll always say, thank you that you would spend time talking to me. The culture is so lonely right now, there’s an epidemic of loneliness. People are so hungry for spiritual conversations that now it is a profound act of love to share your convictions, to talk to people about what you believe, especially what has given you peace through the last two to three years, people have just suffered immensely. What gives you peace? What gives you hope? How do you respond to bad news? How do you and your family find sure footing when everything seems unstable? This is the time to share your hope in Christ and what the Bible says about the times we’re living in. People are eager, so I say that survey, was rooted in fear and a misunderstanding of how loving it is to talk to people about Jesus.

Mentor Mama:

Thank you for that. I wanted to shift a little bit here. Share with us some of the creative ways that you’ve designed to help people get together.

Heather Holleman:

I love this question so much because I realized that when you gather people and you are a Christ-follower, it is inevitable that you are going to have an opportunity to talk about your faith in joyful ways. People love sharing their lives and because we’re so lonely, it’s really easy. If you think about it, think about something you love to do and what would it look like to gather some people in your life together? So, over the years, as a young mom, and again, these are all inspired by the Holy Spirit. I really believe that this is something you can ask God to give you wisdom from the Holy Spirit. I’ve started a neighborhood fitness group because not a lot of kids were playing outside when I was a young mom and that kind of exploded into a huge neighborhood thing. We did pancakes on Saturday mornings, the dads are getting together, it was just this huge, beautiful thing of building the neighborhood together through these little events. We would do jump rope and games Monday night, we called it Monday Night Fitness. Now, when my girls got older, it’s really hard to gather teens with the adults because they often don’t want to do the things you want to do. So, I wanted to do Saturday morning pancakes and we did that for years and hosted an investigative Bible study of the book of John in one year. I’ll never forget, my ninth-grade daughter was like, mom, I know we love Jesus, I know we like to share our faith, but I hate waking up that early Saturday morning, can I just have one day to sleep in? I was like, yes, girl, we don’t have to do this anymore because you don’t want to have it be hard on the family. So now that they’re older, I decided, okay, everyone needs to eat dinner, I want to bless the people in my family, so I started what’s called, Soup and Story where I would make a pot of soup because we’re in Pennsylvania, so there are bitter cold winters, and I would say to everyone, come over Monday night for soup and they would say, what can I bring? And I would say nothing but a story about your day. They loved it. It’s great and it’s still going on, but that’s because I like to cook and I like to have people over and engage them in conversation. And by the way, that very first night we gathered, one of the women said, what if we went around the table and you could either share a breakthrough, a break-up, or a breakdown? She said, “I’ll go first, I’m having a breakdown,” and she cried the entire dinner and we were all able to take care of her, and then when it was my husband’s and my turn to share, we were able to talk about the Lord. So, if you’re listening and you’re like, oh, I don’t like to do that, I’m not into hospitality like that, one thing I did this year was I started a monthly dinner movie club with some faculty members to support someone in our department who was having a hard time and that has been great. I love going out to dinner and I love going to, what we have here, called, $5 discount movies on Tuesday night, so I do things like that. I don’t know if I’m allowed to ask you questions but have you guys found ways to gather? Those are kind of what I do, I also live in a small town where there’s not much to do so I do a lot of walking with neighbors, but I don’t know. Have you heard of any other people doing fun ways to gather?

Mentor Mama:

One of the things that we had done in our neighborhood here was it was called, Backyard Bible Adventures. We’re in Illinois where it’s cold all winter, so it was a summer thing, but I know my kids found that super, super fun just getting together with other kids and parents that would volunteer. We have the blessing that, in our neighborhood, there are actually a lot of people that go to our church. So, to pull off something like that was a bigger deal.

Heather Holleman:

That’s so fun. I feel like it’s easier when you’ve got little kids because you can do a lot of stuff. I loved it when people would invite me and my kids over. I mean, yes, I’ll come, I’ll come and do whatever you’re doing. But as they get older, it’s a little harder. But I love that idea. That’s so fun.

Mentor Mama:

Actually, I’m working with a friend right now, you probably are familiar with the IF: Gathering, but it’s bringing six women together, so we’re just actually in the process of planning and kicking that off too. That’s inviting just six people, it’s the same kind of idea, where we’re just getting together for a small meal, nothing big, and then just a couple of questions. I’m looking forward to that. How do you handle the pushback? When people say, oh, I’m just too busy for these regular commitments.

Heather Holleman:

Adjust the time. I did want to do Soup and Story every week and one of the people in the group, a doctor said, “I can’t do this, I really love this, but can we do it once a month?” Yes, let’s do it once a month. My dinner party and the movie are every other week now in the summer because people are traveling. Then, the other thing is, I talk in the book about the different metaphors for living a sent life and the kind of job descriptions you have, and my favorite one is being the fisherman. So, the fishermen cast the bait and see who will take the bait. So if you’re inviting people and they’re like, no, I’m too busy. Sometimes I just move on to the next person. I’m like, okay, well I’m doing this, who wants to come? That way you also see kind of where God is sovereignly, you know, working to do things and it’s always fun just to see what is working and what is blessing people. And my husband gave me a great ministry principle, to stop doing things for people and do things with people because they’re so busy. I know my neighbors like to exercise, so one of the things I do is, I’m doing right after this podcast, is gather women to go for a walk because they already have that in their schedule or meal prep, I’ve done that. Hey, we all have to cook dinner this week, come over Sunday night and why don’t we meal prep some lasagnas or meatballs because I’m half Italian! I haven’t received a lot of pushback because people are lonely and desperate for togetherness and so I haven’t received pushback, like no, I don’t want to do that. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s like, when are we doing that? When are we getting together? So, I would just say keep casting a wide net and don’t be afraid. Like when we were leading a group at church about living a sent life, we just encourage people to try to gather people in ways that are natural and fun. This older woman who never in her life thought that God could use her in the lives of people made loaves of bread with a little card on it that said, I would like to start a book club in our neighborhood. I know we don’t know each other. She didn’t even know her neighbors. She had to introduce herself. She said, would anyone be interested in reading a book with me? She thought she’d get two answers. She has 25 women in her book club, 25. She’s given out Bibles. Everyone gets to choose a book and when it’s her turn, she just says, hey, would you guys want to read a Christian spiritual book? Nobody says, no, it’s fun. A lot of us are like, well, how do we do these gatherings and then transition to spiritual things? Just ask people, are you guys okay with this? I can guarantee you that you’re going to see God work. And as you take these steps of faith, you’re going to see God working because everyone is thinking about eternal things right now, and everyone is thinking about spiritual things. When I gathered for the support group with the professors, and remember, that it’s hard for me because I’m with academics. So, a lot of people think, what do I do? If people ask me a question and I don’t know the answer, that’s the story of my life, Ellen. I am constantly in conversations where I’m like, you guys are too smart for me, let me get back to you. I don’t know what I’m going to say but one of the first nights we gathered with those professors, one of the women had experienced the loss of a child and the woman wanted to talk about whether or not we thought Heaven was real and these professors were at it like, how do we know? And one professor turned to me and said, we cannot ever know if there’s a Heaven because we know no one who has been there and comes back to tell us about it. It was like the Holy Spirit came over me and I looked her right in the eye and I said, yes, yes, someone has been to Heaven and came back to tell us about it and his name is Jesus, dead silence. I quoted John and I said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions, I go and prepare a place for you.” This woman said I should probably start reading my Bible. So it was awesome. But I was like, I don’t have an argument here, these guys are too smart. She came back at the next dinner with a book she is reading about Heaven. She’s been talking to priests about Heaven. You never know how God is stirring in the hearts of your friends.

Mentor Mama:

That’s incredible. When we’re telling others about the story of our transformation, tell us a little bit about why it’s so important to include Scripture as part of that?

Heather Holleman:

I realize that God’s Word is powerful. It’s, God’s Word, that’s at work with people and it’s his Word that connects them to Jesus and is opening their eyes. It’s the Scriptures that stir in the heart. I’ve learned that after all of these years of talking to people about Jesus, talking about stories, as soon as I move into God’s Word, you can see something stirring. That’s what God, that’s what the Holy Spirit is using. So, the very first time I shared my faith with my Hindu neighbor, I just shared it with her. I said, I just read something I’m really struggling with in the Bible. Can I share it with you? She’s like, yes. And I said, well, in Thessalonians it says we’re supposed to give thanks in all circumstances because that’s God’s will for us in Christ Jesus, and I just said to her, God is really working on this because how do I thank God when my children suffer? How do I thank God when we’re in a hard time? And I said I got to really believe that God is good, that he’s powerful and I turned to her and I was like, is it bothering you that we’re talking about this? And she said, no, I need to hear everything you have to say about Jesus. She not only prayed to receive Christ, she led her husband and two children to the Lord and now has a huge ministry at Penn State. I think it was that passage. She was like, well, who is Jesus? So she went back to her gurus and went back to kind of her tradition. And those Scriptures were (speaking to her) like, okay, God’s will for me in Christ Jesus? Who is Jesus? Why would it say that? And it’s also good for you. I mean, a lot of people when they have a regular time reading God’s Word and when you know God’s Word, when you’re reading it every day, you know exactly how to have joyful and encouraging conversations with your friends. And just remember when God reveals something to you in Scripture, it’s often not just for you, it’s for someone else. I’ll be reading in the Bible, I love reading five Psalms a day, or like right now I just am reading a lot about, what does it mean to really love people? So, I was looking at Romans 12 today and I was thinking recently about that phrase from Paul, where he says that everything is a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ. As soon as God was teaching me through that I was going down my friend list and I was like, oh, I got to share this with my friend. This is going to encourage her. Even the ones who are not believers, I’ll be like, I just read this and it resonated. What do you think about this passage, but you can’t do that if God’s word is not coming alive to you. So many people are like, why do you think God uses you so much in the lives of people? Maybe the answer is because I love God’s Word so much. I love sharing what the Bible is saying. It’s never full gospel presentations until, kind of, later, so I don’t know. Do you love that? Do you love when God teaches you something and you want to just share it with all your friends? I’m constantly keeping my phone next to my Bible. I’m like, I just read this awesome thing. So do you do that too?

Mentor Mama:

Yes. You know what? I’m always absolutely amazed that when I have a quiet time and I’ve learned something and I usually try to really hone in on like this golden nugget of the day that God is teaching me and, sure enough, it comes up at some point in later conversations where I can use it to encourage someone, so I found that to be true and it’s a blessing to them, but it’s a blessing to you as well when God allows you to be a part of that process.

Heather Holleman:

It is! And that 2 Timothy command, whatever you’ve learned and trust to reliable people who are qualified to teach others, that is a way to live your life. Like what have I learned? Who can I entrust it to? We’re talking about your personal ministry. If you’re listening and you’re like, I don’t know what my purpose is. I don’t know what’s happening in my life. Well, what is God teaching you that you can entrust to other people? And don’t be afraid if it’s a people group that you did not expect. Right now, I don’t know why all these little neighborhood little girls, like seven-year-olds, want to hang out with me. I was like, I am not expecting a ministry with this, so you just never know who God’s going to bring and how you can share. So, I love that, I love getting to just see the power of God’s Word. I mean, Ephesians 6, it’s the Sword of the Spirit, it’s this offensive weapon against the enemy as well because a lot of women are living in confusion, despair, and darkness. Think of God’s Word as penetrating that when you speak, it scatters that darkness in a person as you proclaim God’s Word. So it’s powerful.

Mentor Mama

Yes.

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Mentor Mama:

Why do you think it’s so critical to ask people what they think about Jesus?

Heather Holleman:

I think a lot of us get afraid and don’t take that step of faith where you ask, what do you think? Like I can talk all day about my personal stories. I can talk all day about the Bible, but when I turn to a person and say, what do you think about this? That is that moment where you’re entering into eternity. You’re entering into someone’s soul asking them who is Jesus to you? It will be powerful, but you’re going to be afraid, you’re going to tremble. It’s going to be something you do that actually requires faith. A lot of us are not living by faith. We’re not doing things that actually require faith. I’m like a professional Evangelist and it still is a moment where I get scared. I’m like, oh God, I don’t know how to do this. Like what are you thinking about Jesus right now? And you know, I’ve been having to do that, one of my colleagues invited another colleague to study the Bible and it really convicted me because I’ve been in spiritual conversations with a friend for probably 15 years and I’ve never once asked her to study the Bible with me. So, I was sitting in my car, and I was shaking. I was like, I don’t want to do this. Is she going to reject me? I said to this friend (through sending a text), hey, this summer, would you want to do Bible study with me? She’s not a Christian, she’s an atheist. So, I see the little bubbles come up (that she’s typing her reply) and I was like, oh no, this is when the friendship is over and she literally texted what a wonderful invitation, I am checking my schedule! Jesus said you know, who do you say I am? He was always like giving them that moment. I know it’s hard, I know it is scary, but it’s wonderful to just ask people, what do you think? I mean, when I ask my Hindu friend, she says the single question I asked her that made her really turn to Jesus was what does your tradition say about Jesus? Like what do you think about him? And that changed everything for her.

Mentor Mama:

That’s so powerful. Just let them have an opportunity to talk, and share. I think we get a lot of preconceived ideas in our minds about what we think they’re going to say, which prevents us from asking or going down that path. So, that’s a great encouragement to people and a really good reminder. Why do you think it’s so critical that we not try and rush ahead of the Holy Spirit? There’s a certain amount of balance to all this.

Heather Holleman:

Something my mentor taught me just last week is she really cautioned me that when you’re a person that has natural talent like I’m a professor, I’m a writer and a national debater. I won awards, national awards for debate, so I can do these things. This is what she said to me. She said, “nothing you do will impact people for eternity if it is your self-effort and not dependent on the Holy Spirit, it will just be words.” She said, “and there’s nothing in you that can actually provide comfort and joy and peace to people that originates in yourself.” So, if that sounds too mystical, all it is, and this is one thing I love about my work with Cru, if you know anything about Campus Crusade for Christ, they’re really good with great transferable concepts, materials for people. But I remember exactly where I was standing when a Cru staff woman told me what it meant to live a spirit-filled life. She just said, “every day you can wake up and you can say, Jesus, I give you the right to control my life today, empower me by your Holy Spirit, send me where you want me to go, I’ll say what you want me to say, I’ll give you want me to give, but it’s by faith every day.” One of the things I do is just confess any known sin. I know Christians aren’t good at the kind of ritual of confession. My Catholic friends are much better at like this ritual of confession as a daily practice, but you don’t want to have anything blocking that kind of fellowship with the Lord, even though your relationship is always secure with Jesus, you can kind of get out a step with the Holy Spirit, that’s Galatians 5. So, you want to keep in step with the Spirit, ask the Holy Spirit to control and direct your day and to open your eyes to where God is at work, and oh, my word, you’re going to have an adventure. You’re going to have an adventure today if you’re like, God, send me, fill me with your Holy Spirit, I will proclaim. I mean, it could be at the post office today, it could be anywhere you’re surrendered and God will use you and don’t worry if something seems unusual, like if you’re in a traffic jam or whatever, God uses anything. I mean, I had to have an emergency kidney stone surgery and I was able to talk to the doctor, the nurses, giving out my books. I was giving out, “Seated with Christ,” in the emergency room. It’s just like that. Just be filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s not mystical, it’s just something you do by faith every day. Were you taught that as well growing up how simple that is?

Mentor Mama:

Yeah, absolutely.

Heather Holleman:

I did that before this podcast, I just said, God, give me the words to say, take over by your Holy Spirit. And it’s by faith, I may not feel differently, it’s just I asked by faith and God will answer things that are according to his will and you know, he commands us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. So I love that.

Mentor Mama:

Our mom’s group just finished doing a whole Bible study on the power of the Holy Spirit, Jeannie Cunnion’s book.

Heather Holleman:

I love that.

Mentor Mama:

It was phenomenal and a great reminder of exactly what you’ve just said. Come Holy Spirit. You write that living a sent life requires surrender. Tell us more about what that means.

Heather Holleman:

What I’m learning is how selfish I can become and self-focused and I can really get caught up in the kind of American narrative of the family. You know, everything’s about prosperity and blessing and you just get really self-focused. When you wake up and you say to God, you can do whatever you want with my life, with my children, with my husband, to bring glory to you and to bring glory to other people that is deep. That’s like, when Paul says in Galatians 2, which was my theme verse for years, I’ve been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. I think living a sent life, it’s just you surrendering to it, but you really got to believe in what I was saying. What is this surpassing greatness of knowing Christ? Why is he so magnificent that you would give up your right to yourself and live a life of surrender to seek and save the lost? If you think about it, that’s why we’re still here. God could sanctify us and bring us to Heaven immediately, but he doesn’t, he leaves us here because he’s building a Kingdom for himself and I think that is the most significant thing happening in the world today is that God is drawing men and women to himself. It’s the most exciting thing that’s happening. When you say to God, all right, I give up all my plans, make me part of the mission, I’ll do it, whatever you want, but I struggle with that. I have years in my life where I feel like I’m surrendered and then other years when I get caught up in, oh, let’s improve our house, let’s have my children be wonderful and popular, and let’s get great clothes. Do you get those temptations?

Mentor Mama:

Absolutely.

Heather Holleman:

I confessed this morning, what is the narrative that we’re doing here? Are we saving money for a vacation? What’s the goal here? Retirement? A lake house? What’s the goal? I mean, Paul’s goal was to talk about nothing except what Christ has accomplished in him. And remember at the end of Acts, he’s like, you know, the goal is to just make him (Jesus) known. I love thinking maybe that could be me one day that, we would be that surrendered because we know that God’s love like Psalm 63, that his love is better than life. I would love to hear your insight on that. Surrender is like, how much do we really believe this?

Mentor Mama:

I’m right there. I’ve said that many times and thought to myself, do I really believe that what I’m asking here? Because it could be laying down my life or dying of cancer or something so that one of my family members would finally see Christ, whatever it takes and that is hard to do.

Heather Holleman:

This is what got me. Can I just read this for your readers? This is Paul. He knew he was being sent to Jerusalem, but he says, “behold, I’m going to Jerusalem constrained by the Holy Spirit not knowing what will happen to me there.” How many of you are planners? Paul’s like, I have no idea. Then he says this, “except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me, that in every city, imprisonment and affliction await me.” This is the thing that got me, and I wrote this down as like, okay, I want to memorize this and carry this in my purse. He says this, “but I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself. If only I may finish my course and the ministry that I receive from the Lord Jesus to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God.” I mean, I get tears in my eyes. I love just asking God, I want to live a sent life, I want to surrender to you because I know that you’re so good and you can design a much better life than I would ever design or imagine for myself. But it’s hard. It’s hard because we’re also Americans and we have a terrible theology of suffering. We think that if we’re suffering, we’re not blessed, but that’s just not true. I’m fighting against that in my heart, even today, because I have a daughter in college and a daughter in high school and I’m like, okay, what’s the goal here? What is success? What is the goal of our lives? It’s surrender. Yeah, it’s hardcore; it’s hard, but then you get to live a supernatural life and the prize is your relationship with Jesus and the prize is authentic relationships, loving people. The prize is friendship with Jesus. I don’t know, friendship with Jesus, what more do we want? Peace? The fruit of the Holy Spirit? That’s the prize. I mean, you can be at the finest resort in the world and if you’re not experiencing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and if you’re in a bad mood, it doesn’t matter where you are. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. If you don’t have peace and joy, it’s all a waste. Also, you can be impoverished and experiencing the joy of the Lord that he gives you as a gift, so that’s where I am right now in true confession and true honesty. How deep will my surrender go?

Mentor Mama:

And that’s a great question for each one of us to ask ourselves. As you said, it kind of varies from day to day, and honestly, prayer, asking God to help me be able to fully surrender myself because I can’t do that alone.

Heather Holleman:

Yeah.

Mentor Mama:

Heather, it’s been such a joy to have you here. How can people find out more information about you and your book?

Heather Holleman:

I do have a website and I do blog every day, but it’s not long. They’re little snippets of little things and I’m very simple. I have a very simple life. So, you’ll see pictures of bird nests that I’m tracking and, weeding my garden today. You can get all the books at Moody’s website, and on Amazon and people love to read, “Seated” and “Sent” together. So, “Seated with Christ,” is really about your identity with Christ and healing from jealousy and comparison, because I think Satan is stealing so much joy from women because they’re comparing their lives and their children and their marriages or whatever. “Seated with Christ,” is what sets me free from that so then I can live a “Sent” life. So, the second book is, “Sent.” I do a lot of women’s retreats on “Seated, Surrendered, and Sent.” The website’s the best, I’ll admit I’m terrible on social media. It feels like a shame factory to me, and so, I’m not the best. I’m still learning. I do a TikTok every once in a while, where I’ll try to make a TikTok with my girls or something. I’m on Instagram. I’m on Facebook. Follow me there because who knows, maybe I’ll start posting more encouraging things on Instagram. Then I’ve got some new books coming out in the fall that will hopefully encourage you. I have one on how to have better conversations because a lot of people who read, “Sent” said, could you train us in how to just have conversations in general? That’s coming out in October, you will love that book. I would love (to come back on the podcast), I mean, I’m inviting myself back if you ever want to talk about how to have better conversations and then I’m writing a young adult novel, like a middle grade novel on a little girl who can’t find her seat in the lunchroom and it’s her story of being seated with Christ because I told you God’s bringing all the seven-year-old little girls around me, so I’m writing a book for them and that will come out next year as well, hopefully.

Mentor Mama:

That’s so awesome. Yes, we will definitely have you back on for the conversations book, that’s for sure. Before we go, I want to ask you about some of our favorite questions here about Bible study tools. What Bible do you use and which translation is it?

Heather Holleman:

For years I did the NIV study Bible because my best friend Elizabeth gave me a Bible in 1996 and I read that Bible until just two years ago, but then I decided to try the English Standard Version, the ESV, which is a beautiful translation and it’s a little more academic, I think it and it might be a little closer to the Greek and Hebrew, and the one I got was the ESV study Bible and I reread the entire Bible. I love reading, like, I do Bible reading plans, but I love it because it’s almost like a whole fresh encounter with the Lord with this new translation. So, I’m currently reading the ESV but most of my Bible memory has been NIV.

Mentor Mama:

Do you have any favorite journaling supplies or anything that you like to use to enhance your Bible study experience?

Heather Holleman:

I know the readers can’t see this, but I have a table here with all of my favorite devotional books to kind of let me connect with God through the wisdom of others. I love reading the Bible, I’ll read five Psalms a day, or maybe I’ll be reading through a New Testament book, but I love to see what other women have written about. I love, Hannah Whitall Smith, “God is enough,” is one of my favorite little, daily devotions, just her little devotions. Sometimes I’ll read an excerpt from Elisabeth Elliot’s book, “Keep a Quiet Heart,” but then I also love a spiral-bound journal, I’m a journal snob and every day I keep my journal, some tissues because you’re going to cry, pens, highlighters. You can see, I have my whole thing. I am a full-time working mom, so I don’t have hours and hours, but I try to get up and have about a half-hour with the Lord. Not in a legalistic kind of way, but in that half hour, I can read my five Psalms, and then I do five things I’m thankful for because of the Thessalonians quote, then one thing I taught my girls years ago, we do a prayer journal because of Psalm 5:3 where David says, “in the morning, oh Lord, you hear my voice in the morning. I lay my request before you and I wait in expectation.” So, I do five things that I need from the Lord that day. Some people are like, no, that’s so audacious. Do you just make a list of what you need? I was like, yeah, God says he daily bears our burdens, casts our care upon him. He formed the hearts of all, and considers everything they do. So yes, I ask about everything I need and then I do my five people that I’m praying for. Sometimes I add in my five steps of faith or insights that I read from the Psalms or wherever I’m reading. Then I also love Bible reading plans to finish the Bible, but you can use whatever you want because I like doing a Chronological Bible because the Bible is not put together chronologically. So, I like reading the Chronological Bible because then you’re doing this whole history of the nation of Israel, so I do that. I keep my phone with me because I love the Blue Letter Bible app where you can look up the Greek and Hebrew, I love it because sometimes like, my husband and I were talking about Jesus’s compassion when he looks out over the crowds and weeps over Jerusalem and Jesus says they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd and I wanted to look up what the Greek word is for harassed, and it’s so deep, it’s like we’re deceived, we’re messed up inside, everything’s going wrong. I mean, harassed and helpless, those are deep words. So, I do that and then have coffee drinks, and then my time will be over. I also love looking at nature. So, I have my weeping cherry out there to look at, and so, that’s what I do. And I can tell you this time you spend in God’s Word is never wasted time. God can multiply your time. If you think you don’t have time, trust him with 30 minutes, and see how great your day will be. See how efficient you suddenly become. See how things supernaturally line up. I’m telling you! The days that I don’t spend in God’s word, I become a terrible person because part of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is that time in God’s Word, the discipline of it because then you’re your real self, you’re able to bless, you’re able to pour out your life for people. So that’s what I do. Do you do all those things too?

Mentor Mama:

I have my own little spot as you say, and I’ve been actually reading through the Old Testament. I’ve just been re-reading Ezekiel and it’s even amazing from some of those old prophet books, like take-home points that you can use to encourage yourself and others. I completely concur that is some of the most valuable time you could spend in your day and getting it off to a great start. Heather, thank you so much for being here today to talk with us about how to engage others more confidently with sharing our faith. It’s been such a joy.

Heather Holleman:

Thank you. I love this and I hope that our paths cross again.

Mentor Mama:

Yes, for sure. And for our readers pick up a copy of Heather’s book, “Sent: Living a Life That Leads Others to Jesus.” You can find the link in this blog and while you are here, please share your comments with us. And finally, head over to the Coffee and Bible Time website for our prayer journals that will help guide and document your prayer life at coffeeandbibletime.com. Thank you for joining us today. We love you all have a blessed day.

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