Posts Tagged ‘testimony’

We see the stories everywhere. Stories that aggravate us, hurt our hearts, paint us Christians with a broad brush. But what can we do? Well this kind of thing is not going to be changed by Christians acting badly. Most of the things we are tempted in response to do will just exacerbate the problem. What this culture needs is what we have always needed, Revival. We need to reconnect with Jesus.

The best way to combat a negative story is with a positive story. It all comes back to the Gospel. We Christians have got to be about the business of sharing the Gospel and speaking God’s truth in love. Creatives, the Gospel story is a better story and we have been given the abilities to share it. It is time for us to work together to get this story out in a way that speaks truth in love. Write the story. Write the song. Make the art. Make the film. Put on the show. Post the video. Team up. Pair up. Work with people with different gifts. Be the creative body of Christ. Find the venue. Put it our there. Tell the story.

Your testimony is powerful. The Gospel is powerful. It’s STILL “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” Share it.

I used to hate it in Math class. The teacher would make us show out work. They wanted to make sure we understood the process, and so seeing how we arrived at our conclusions was vital. Seeing our errors helped them to remediate our misunderstandings.

Now as an artist/minister, I’ve noticed that while people will largely appreciate a finished piece, what they really seem to love is seeing me create the piece, live, before their eyes. I could do a much nicer piece in my studio, taking my time, and the perfectionist in me sometimes wishes I could still do that, but I get much more impact by creating something in a few minutes, while the people can see the work. They are more engaged and more ready to hear the message if they have seen the work firsthand.

I got to thinking maybe that’s why one of the most effective types of ministry is the testimony. Oh people expect we who speak to know our Bible. They even expect that we will communicate well, but that can communicate a sort of veneer over our lives. They may look at us and see us as someone who has already arrived, or someone who has always been a believer. They might see us as genuinely holy or, at worst, “holier than thou.” The testimony breaks through all that. The testimony shows the work—the work Christ has done in your life. All of the sudden the person sees what has been done in your life and begins to think, “If God can do all that in Him, I wonder what He can do in me.”

We who are privileged to speak God’s truth to people would be wise to remember that were it not for God’s work in our lives, none of us would be doing very well. Showing the work—God’s work—gives Him the glory. You don’t have to give a testimony every time, but be sure the people in your care know where the power in you comes from. Show the work.

A few weeks ago, someone liked one of my posts on one of my sites from a web site that publishes stories of no more than 100 words. I thought that sounded like an intriguing challenge, so I tried and submitted. Unfortunately, my submission was not what they were looking for. That’s their prerogative, I limit things on here for content as well. Nonetheless, I thought I would share it here. I see it as a 100 word testimony of sorts. I really liked this challenge. It helps to learn to be concise. Not everyone will want to sit and listen to your 15 minute testimony. Can you express it in five?

The End
Bowing at the altar, I came to the end of myself. I tried everything to fix my mess. Nothing worked. Depressed, defeated, I reached for something that would make it alright—that would make me alright. I was not enough to fix what was broken. I gave up. I wasn’t sure why I was there. A strange force was drawing me in. Part of me wanted to resist, but that force kept beckoning. I fell to my knees as if this was the end. I cried out, “God help me!” and in that moment, I knew.
It would be alright.

One of the things that I love to do is really simple. Yes I’m a pastor, yes I speak in churches and other venues all over the country, yes I study and plan and write and design and create and prepare, but there is one story that hits home with people every time I deliver it and the truth is, It is either the story that took the least amount of preparation, or the greatest depending on your perspective. On one hand, this story took 52 years to develop on the other hand very little work was necessary to get it ready to present.

It’s fascinating. As a Christian, I have been entrusted with a story, and so have you. It’s called the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s the story of Jesus—the story of His birth, life, death and resurrection and while it’s the greatest story ever told, many people are intimidated to share it. They say things like, “I don’t know enough.” or “What if someone asks me a question I can’t answer?” Well the second question is easy enough to answer. If you don’t know the answer to a question, “I don’t know.” is a valid response. It may not be totally fulfilling to the “asker,” but it’s a lot better than making something up, especially in matters of faith. A better answer is, “I don’t know, but I’ll try to find out.”

That being said, there is one story about Jesus for which, not only do you know enough, but you are the world’s foremost expert on this story. NO ONE knows it better than you. It’s your story, the story of what Jesus has done in your life. That is a story that will probably help a lot of people. No one can tell your story like you can, so tell your story.

It works for me. I first saw this in my first “public” message. I was a youth leader at the time. My group had been asked to minister at a coffee house. We decided that I would bring the message. I had something worked out and I worked hard on it, but the closer it got, the less comfortable I became with what I had worked on. When it came time to speak, I felt strongly led to share my story from the heart. When I finished, I looked around the room. There was almost not a dry eye in the house. It was at that moment that I understood the incredible power in sharing what Jesus has done for you. It connects with people, especially those who are looking for hope and help. I’ve ministered in a lot of places since then and I’ve spoken to congregations large and small on many, many topics and God has blessed a lot but the story that connects the most, is the one that only I can tell. My story.

The thing is, there is a story only you can tell, too. Everyone who knows Jesus has one. Tell it and trust God to work through it. He will.

Tell Your Story!

So often people are really hesitant to share their faith. One of the reasons for this is because we feel we don’t know enough. Now you may not be a theologian. You may not know hermaneutics or exegesis, which has occasionally been renamed “exit Jesus” but I digress, but there is a story you know, a story about Jesus that you know better than anyone, even those with half the alphabet behind his or her name. It’s the story of what Jesus has done for you.

Truthfully, this is usually the most convincing story, when it comes to sharing our faith. Maybe that’s because it’s the one you’re most passionate about, the one you have actually experienced. Whatever the reason, it’s the story you’re most prepared to share and the one that usually hits home, especially when you take into account the fact that God orchestrates our encounters.

So what’s your story? Write it down. Get to know it and be prepared to share it at every opportunity. You will be amazed at what God can do through it. Oh and by the way, even if you grew up in the church, came to Jesus at an early age and lived a pretty upright life, you still have a story. It’s the story of a God who blessed you immensely.

1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” How will you share your story?

This is one of those regrettable truths of life. Our testimonies are built upon the times where we have seen God come through, the times where He has shown His power, the times where He has come to our rescue. In order for most of these things to happen we usually have to face a test or a trial after all, it’s kind of hard to be rescued if we don’t have something from which to be rescued.

I don’t call this regrettable because I don’t want to see the power of God. I call it regrettable because seeing God’s power often comes with the pain of an ordeal. Here’s what’s not regrettable. God is always good and always comes through. We’ve been spared the ultimate pain because Jesus endured immense pain coming to our ultimate rescue. Some of the pain in life is unavoidable, the consequences of living in a perfect world that we broke with our sin. The best we can do is clean up our acts so the pain we face is not self-inflicted.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.” Trust God with your tests. God can and will turn our tests into testimonies, and sharing those stories makes the pain make sense and brings ultimate good out of a bad situation.

How can God be glorified in the situation you are in right now? If you don’t know, rest assured, God does.

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coverbandWow I know that sounds closed minded, but it’s not exactly what I mean. I love to hear the stories of other people, I can listen to them for hours. I also really love storytellers like Andy Andrews who tell us the great stories of people from history with vital lessons for our lives today. Of course I also love the stories of Jesus and the people from the Word of God, mixed with a good and biblical application for my day-to-day life. Having heard all this, you might be asking what it is I don’t want to hear and what is the point of this post.

Well I’ll tell you. Todd Henry from The Accidental Creative always signs off his podcast by saying, “Cover bands don’t change the world.” Now I’ve heard some great cover bands over the years. They are proficient, talented and can play the songs note for note, but no matter how good they are, something is missing. The one who wrote the song is the one who experienced the passion and the pain it took to create the song. Others can sing the song, but they have lived it. That’s what I want to hear. I want to hear the song writer, the one who paid his dues and paid the price. I want to hear the story and the passion and the pain behind it. I want you to tell me your story. I want to hear the joy, the revelation and the struggle, the triumph and the victory. Show me why it didn’t kill you and how it made you stronger. Tell me about what you’ve lived and make me feel it.

Nowhere is this more important than in sharing your faith. So many people are hesitant to share their faith. They often feel they don’t know enough or won’t have the right words and both of those things may be true. There is, however, one subject on which you are the world’s foremost expert. There is one thing you know better than anyone else, it’s your story and the story of Jesus in you. The story of what He has done in your life. Start there, tell your story, give your testimony. Honor God. Speak the truth and speak it in love.

Tell us your story. Chances are there is someone who really needs to hear it!

Oh and one last thing, if you think your story is boring, work to live a better one!