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But living by these simple truths will help us deal with this fear:

Avoid arguing about religion. Some will try to debate trivial matters or religious doctrines or traditions. We don't need to get caught trying to defend ourselves or our church. The focus of our discussion must be Jesus. One's personal relationship with Jesus is the main thing--everything else is secondary and pales in significance (see 2 Tim. 2:24-26).

Study God's Word, and witness about what Christ has done in your life. Though Tom did not believe he was William's intellectual equal, he did know much more about the Scriptures than William.

Tom was without excuse if he didn't know what Jesus said about Himself as the Son of God. He should and could know the promises of salvation just by studying the Bible (see 2 Tim. 2:15-16).

We should also be able to tell others what Jesus has done in our lives. Scripture instructs us to "be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks [us] a reason for the hope that is in [us], with meekness and fear" (1 Pet. 3:15, NKJV).

Don't be afraid. The Holy Spirit will put the right words in your mouth. Often the Holy Spirit inspires me to say things I had never thought of before. What He guides me to say is always just what the unbeliever needs to hear (see Luke 12:12).

Sharing about Jesus cuts through all the religion, dogma and ecclesiastical blunders from the Crusades and the Inquisition to the fall of present-day televangelists. Don't fight with family about religion. Focus your conversation on the only One who matters--Jesus, the Christ.

THE FEAR OF BEING SHAMED We may fear being put to shame--or even bringing shame to Christ--when we share the gospel. While we may fear losing face or having our reputations smeared, the fact is that we have already confessed our shame and lost our reputations.

So when the wall of fear threatens to block your witness, remember these important insights:

You have nothing to fear. What can mere humans do to you when God is on your side? There is nothing your loved ones can do to harm or hurt you (see Rom. 8:31-34).

You have nothing to lose. You have already lost your life. You have been crucified with Christ.

Your body is already a living sacrifice. And you have surrendered all your possessions and rights to Christ. You are simply a steward of His boundless resources (see Luke 17:33).

You have nothing to hide. Though your lost family members may know about your rotten past--and may condemn you for it--you have already repented of everything and been forgiven by Christ.

When you are accused of past sins, you can simply say: "That's true. I admit it. But I have quit doing that. I am forgiven of my past sin by Jesus Christ. I ask you to forgive me, too. Will you?"

TEAR DOWN THE WALL OF FEAR I once heard a Bible teacher claim that Scripture says "fear not" in its various grammatical forms more than 365 times. After checking a concordance, I don't doubt his assertion. He also said that one reason Scripture talks so much about fear is because we need daily assurance that we have nothing to fear from either God or man.

Make the decision now that you will not let fear silence your witness. Take God at His Word, and fear not.

Allow God to be your sure defense; trust Him to give you the right words to say and the right things to do as you live for Jesus in front of your lost family members. God's power and strength will back you up, because "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7).

Here are a few of the practical steps you can take to rid your life of fear when sharing Jesus with your family:

**Look up the promises in Scripture dealing with fear and begin to trust God to remove every apprehension.

**Bind the spirit of fear in prayer, and bind yourself to the will of God before sharing about Jesus. Loose the fruits of God's Spirit in your life so that your witness will reflect His fruit (see Gal. 5:22­23).

**Memorize key scripture passages to share with family members who are lost. This is sometimes more effective than giving opinions or explaining personal doctrines. It's also effective to paraphrase these scriptures in your own words. Start with these: John 1:12; John 3:16; John 10:28; Acts 2:38; Romans 3:23; Romans 5:1-2; Romans 5:6­10; Romans 10:9,13; 1 John 5:11­13.

**Find another believer who will help you role-play a conversation with your lost family member.

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