When God is active in your life, you will have a great story to tell others.
Eugene Peterson is best known for his translation of Bible called The Message. It was published in 2002 and has sold over 20 million copies. What is lesser known is the fact that he had authored 30 books and had been a Presbyterian pastor of the same church for 25 years. Later in life, he served as a college professor.
Years ago, Bono (yes, that Bono) invited Peterson to meet him. Bono had been heavily influenced by Peterson’s translation of the psalms. Bono called and Peterson turned him down. At the time, he was hard at work translating the rest of the Old Testament.
A reporter heard that Peterson had said no to the lead singer of U2: “It’s Bono, for crying out loud.” Peterson responded, “Dean, it was Isaiah.”
Eugene Peterson passed away on October 22 at the age of 85.
Another person who would appreciate Eugene Peterson’s life’s story would be the Apostle Paul. The book of Acts in the Bible tells Paul’s story from being an opponent of Jesus to becoming a follower.
As the book nears its end, Paul is on his way to Rome to appear on trial before Caesar. On the way he gets called before a regional official named Agrippa. Paul figured he had one shot to tell Agrippa his story and he took it. Here is Peterson’s translation of the account …
1-3 Agrippa spoke directly to Paul: “Go ahead—tell us about yourself.”
Paul took the stand and told his story. “I can’t think of anyone, King Agrippa, before whom I’d rather be answering all these Jewish accusations than you, knowing how well you are acquainted with Jewish ways and all our family quarrels. 4-8 “From the time of my youth, my life has been lived among my own people in Jerusalem. Practically every Jew in town who watched me grow up—and if they were willing to stick their necks out they’d tell you in person—knows that I lived as a strict Pharisee, the most demanding branch of our religion. It’s because I believed it and took it seriously, committed myself heart and soul to what God promised my ancestors—the identical hope, mind you, that the twelve tribes have lived for night and day all these centuries—it’s because I have held on to this tested and tried hope that I’m being called on the carpet by the Jews. They should be the ones standing trial here, not me! For the life of me, I can’t see why it’s a criminal offense to believe that God raises the dead. 9-11 “I admit that I didn’t always hold to this position. For a time I thought it was my duty to oppose this Jesus of Nazareth with all my might. Backed with the full authority of the high priests, I threw these believers—I had no idea they were God’s people!—into the Jerusalem jail right and left, and whenever it came to a vote, I voted for their execution. I stormed through their meeting places, bullying them into cursing Jesus, a one-man terror obsessed with obliterating these people. And then I started on the towns outside Jerusalem. 12-14 “One day on my way to Damascus, armed as always with papers from the high priests authorizing my action, right in the middle of the day a blaze of light, light outshining the sun, poured out of the sky on me and my companions. Oh, King, it was so bright! We fell flat on our faces. Then I heard a voice in Hebrew: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me? Why do you insist on going against the grain?’ 15-16 “I said, ‘Who are you, Master?’ “The voice answered, ‘I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down like an animal. But now, up on your feet—I have a job for you. I’ve handpicked you to be a servant and witness to what’s happened today, and to what I am going to show you. 17-18 “‘I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.’ 19-20 “What could I do, King Agrippa? I couldn’t just walk away from a vision like that! I became an obedient believer on the spot. I started preaching this life-change—this radical turn to God and everything it meant in everyday life—right there in Damascus, went on to Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside, and from there to the whole world. 21-23 “It’s because of this ‘whole world’ dimension that the Jews grabbed me in the Temple that day and tried to kill me. They want to keep God for themselves. But God has stood by me, just as he promised, and I’m standing here saying what I’ve been saying to anyone, whether king or child, who will listen. And everything I’m saying is completely in line with what the prophets and Moses said would happen: One, the Messiah must die; two, raised from the dead, he would be the first rays of God’s daylight shining on people far and near, people both godless and God-fearing.” 24 That was too much for Festus. He interrupted with a shout: “Paul, you’re crazy! You’ve read too many books, spent too much time staring off into space! Get a grip on yourself, get back in the real world!”
Here’s an important point: Don’t be surprised if you get this reaction when you tell the story of how God has transformed your life. But what did Paul do?
25-27 But Paul stood his ground.
In the end, Festus thinks he’s crazy and King Agrippa chooses to not believe. In one sense, Paul failed. On the other hand, had Paul not even tried he would have failed anyway.
Wayne Gretzy, the all-time NHL scoring leader had a philosophy about risk-taking: “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.”
There will be times when you share your story and it’s not well-received. In sales, that would be considered a failure – but not with God.
Let me close with three simple parts to include when crafting your story:
1. Who you used to be.
2. Who you are now.
3. How you were changed.
Experience and Background
- 25+ years of senior leadership experience
- masters in management and leadership
- presenter at the WFX National Conference
- former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
- helped start 2 for-profit tech companies
To get a better feel for my style and personality, you can watch past sermons on our YouTube channel.
Need an engaging speaker for your event or conference? At the moment, I am available on a limited basis to speak for seminars, workshops, or worship services. Click here to learn more.
I’ve written a few books that might help! You’ll find books on preaching, leadership, Ephesians, as well as my first novel. Follow this link to learn more.