What’s In a Testimony II

I have written on testimony and shared mine as well as others. The cool thing about sharing your testimony, is that just like Jesus, it never gets boring. Or at least, it never gets boring as long as I am seeking to grow in Christ.

Our testimonies change over time due to the joys and sorrows life throws our way. So far, in my experience of sharing my testimony, it has not been a clean cut script about everything that has happened in my life up until this point in time. It’s not like I say the same boring old story and tack on a couple of new highlights every now and then. God is consistently giving me fresh perspective on my life: my past, my present, my strengths, my weaknesses. And that fresh perspective makes for some good material.

There are a couple of key factors that determine what I share with any given person.

  1. Who am I talking to?
  2. What are they going though?
  3. Will this point them towards Jesus or towards me?

If I can answer the first two and still feel good about what I want to share, but the answer to number three is pointing them towards me, then I need to choose to share nothing. Because as I have said in previous posts, the purpose of my testimony is not letting people know the depths of who I am. It’s only purpose is to point people to Christ. And if what I am saying isn’t doing that, I might as well keep it to myself. I’m not saying that I don’t joke around or have small talk. But if I am going to go deep and expose things about myself that I wouldn’t normally share, it better be for a higher purpose.

I am not perfect in this. I like to talk…too much at times. There are times where I start to share what’s been going on in my life with someone and I can just sense that maybe I should stop. You know when you realize you went wrong somewhere in your monologue but you choose to keep going and watch the train wreck of your words unfold before your eyes? I’m trying to work on stopping at the realization part and avoiding the wreck.

How do I know whether or not to share something before it’s already too late? Honestly, it’s a work in progress. The more I am filled with the Spirit and have been in God’s presence, the more likely I am to say exactly what needs to be said. Nothing less and nothing more. It’s when I am not resting in Him and trusting that He will speak through me, that my words pour out haphazardly hoping to somehow hit the mark.

So why am I writing about testimony yet again? I think it’s because I want to set the tone for what I am going to be writing about. I don’t plan for this to be a place for you to download my life into yours. I am praying that my words will be an encouragement and even a challenge. I want this blog to be a testament to what God has already done and bring hope to what he will do! God bless!

 

The House of Your Dreams

My husband and I have been looking for houses recently and I had to work on how I saw the house my husband and I decided God wanted us to be in. At first, I had a lot of anxiety concerning this house. The bedrooms were small, there were stains in the cabinets, the bathroom would need work, and on and on the list went. But this house was it, and it was worth it and it was the wise choice. Plus if we bought a newer, nicer house my husband would have been disappointed because there would be nothing to renew, nothing to fix up and make our own.

I was praying about my heart on this the other day and I felt like I got this analogy or word from the Lord. I asked God to help me view this house for the potential of it and accept it as it was. I asked him to give me vision of what it could be and love it even with it’s dirty, broken, outdated look. I mean, isn’t that what Jesus did for us?

The only way for Jesus to work in our lives is for us to be like that house. If we view ourselves as perfect and good the way we are, there is nothing for the Lord to do in us. But if we see ourselves as we truly are, which is dirty, broken, and needing improvement, then we open our doors up for the makeover to begin. God has promised to make us new, but we have to be willing to admit that we need to be made new before we can become the house of our dreams.

Visions From Above

All I could see was a hand reaching out of the impenetrable darkness. The people that were with me all stood around looking at the hand, but no one seemed inclined to reach for it. None of us were really sure what to do. All of the sudden, I was looking beneath the darkness that the hand was reaching from. I could make out a vague form, but didn’t know who it was. This person was holding on to some sort of light source, but was covering it so that none of it could shine to reveal who was beneath the darkness…

This was a vision I had after asking God to speak to me. I felt strongly that He wanted me to share this with my small group from church and so I obeyed his commands. Even though it has been a week after I shared this particular vision, it has still been on my mind when I have asked God if there is anything He wants to speak to me. Specifically, when I asked him what I should write about for this blog, that vision came to mind once again. So, I am writing about it. I hope God uses it to speak to one or many of you.

I would not consider prophecy to be one of my key spiritual gifts. If you were to ask me what my spiritual gifts are, I would tell you words of wisdom and that I am a shepherd. My go to has never been healing, visions, or anything that people might consider “out of the ordinary”.

Something my pastor said a while ago changed my ability to be used by God in ways I would have never thought possible. He told us that the spiritual gifts were something to be desired by all. Well, I suppose that Paul originally said that in 1 Corinthians, but I actually began to understand it after the words my pastor spoke. Paul really meant what he said: everyone should desire and ask for the gift of prophecy. And most would say that visions of the kind that I got fall under that category.

I think the key to receiving this vision is simple. I asked. I don’t think it is my strength, but I do believe that I should always be willing to allow God to use me in this way. I should be willing to build up and edify the body of believers around me. I don’t know if this is something God will make me strong in, but I do know that if I never try, if I never step out in faith, if I never make myself available, I will never prophecy.

Paul says, “Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing?…But eagerly desire the greater gifts.” I think in that series of rhetorical questions the answer is “no” to all of them. But it doesn’t mean we can’t be used in ways that we aren’t comfortable with. If we are to eagerly desire these gifts, wouldn’t you think that there would be some benefit? Would God tell us to desire something that is completely unattainable? I don’t think so.

This means that not only should I continue to ask God to speak to me in visions for prophesying, but I should be asking God to use me in the other greater gifts as well. And the ones I listed aren’t even all of them! This doesn’t leave me feeling overwhelmed and helpless, but rather expectant and joyous!

We each have our part in the body of Christ. We each have our strength and our place, but sometimes God needs us to step out and desire something greater. Sometimes He needs us to fill in where others might be unwilling. Sometimes we may be used to do things greater than we could ever comprehend.

I am willing. Are you?

P.S. My husband told me I was stepping into a hornet’s nest by posting this. We shall see…

Time to change

Have you ever been driving and you see someone standing in the median with a sign? Usually they are there asking for money because they are out of work or homeless. Well, today I caught myself doing something that I have probably been doing for years and just realized I don’t like this part of who I am. So I am going to change it.

As I drove up to the stop light, I contemplated cutting through the parking lot instead of waiting to make my right turn so as to avoid the awkwardness of having the guy standing there looking pathetic and down on his luck. I settled with being in the far lane and having the car next to me block him from my vision.

But that blasted thing called peripheral vision wouldn’t let me forget about him. I could see him walking down the median looking at the cars in the left lane. I only imagined what the look on his face was. One of hope, disappointment, or a mix of both. I began to feel sorrow entering my heart.

I started to really think about why I tended to react in this way whenever I saw someone asking for money. I have several reasons as to why it might be my natural instinct. I have grown up in a world that believes everyone has to earn what they have and shouldn’t have life handed to him. A world where “if you give them money they will just go use it on booze and drugs, best not to waste it.”

I didn’t have any money at the time, and was on my way somewhere so I didn’t have time to stop and get food or cash. But how many times did I drive by someone when I had a couple of bucks that were just going to be used on a Reese’s peanut butter cup that I could do without? More times than I care to admit. I have conditioned my heart to be cold and calloused towards these people. I ignore them before I even realize what I am doing.

This is the world that I would like to live in. “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind..Luke 4:13. How am I supposed to invite people like that into my life when I am ignoring their very needs? I want to give without expecting to be given anything in return. Will my money be used for purposes I did not intend? Absolutely! Will relationships be more likely to form because of kindness and love? God-willing.

I cannot control what the needy and hurting will do with the gifts that I offer, but how will they ever be blessed by it if I never give it to them?

My challenge for myself and for anyone reading this: Love people regardless of where they are in life, whether it is on a median at a stoplight or the neighbor across the street. I never know what kind of impact my gifts may have on someone’s life. Pray over the gifts that I do give, that they would be a part of restoration and renewal. Pray that my gifts would be part of a miracle.

A life lesson

I plan to continue to post entries every Sunday that are along the same lines of what I have been posting, but every now and then I have a thought that I really feel like God wants me to share. I hope it benefits someone. 🙂

Something happened today that really got me thinking about a few things.

I work in a place where I encounter people who are, to put it nicely, crazy. They lose their minds over things that are out of my control and say hurtful things. I have not always responded in the best way outwardly or inwardly. I find myself dwelling on all of the things I wish I had said in response to their cruel words. It is like the event follows me even after it is all over with. I tell the story painting the crazy customer in the worst shade possible and me in the best. Don’t get me wrong, they usually are pretty absurd and, in the world’s eyes, deserve everything I am saying about them, but is that how I am called to act?

Today I was in line at Walmart and an older black man got in line behind me. I immediately knew something was wrong as he began to throw racial slurs that didn’t even apply to me behind my back. I was hoping that he was on a Bluetooth talking to someone, but as I glanced behind me I noticed there wasn’t one. When he saw me glance back he then began to mutter quite loudly about how I shouldn’t be looking at him and he was fixing to kill me and bury me alive. Then he proceeded to say some rather vulgar things that he was going to do to me. I was concerned and didn’t want to accuse him of something he wasn’t guilty of. So, I turned around and asked him if he was talking to me or someone else because I couldn’t tell. He said that I was mistaken and he was talking about Walmart itself. I really didn’t believe him but didn’t want to prolong the conversation as I could tell something was very wrong with this man. He said many other things which I chose to ignore and I checked out and left all while he was continuing to talk about me behind my back.

I have absolutely no idea why this man was saying all these horrible things to me. I did absolutely nothing to deserve it. And yet my reaction to him was completely different than my reactions to customers in the past. And none of them have ever threatened to bury me alive outside. If I heard someone else tell that story, I probably would have piped in with how I wouldn’t have taken that craziness and would have immediately called the cops on him. Well, I didn’t do any of that. I was more focused on wondering how a person gets to that point. The point where they say vile things to people for no apparent reason. Did he even realize how horrible he was being? Was he completely out of his mind? What could possibly cause a person to behave in such a manner? Instead of responding to all of his comments, I let it go. Everything inside of me wanted to tell him he was a jerk and I was going to call the cops on him, but where would that have gotten me? Probably buried alive somewhere.

I have seen people return fire with fire and it never turns out well. When I find myself dwelling on what I should have or could have said in response to all the people who insult me for no reason, I need to start praying that I would be able to forgive them and treat them far better than they treated me. I feel like I did that with the man in line at Walmart. I can’t say I have done the same in the past with my crazy customers. This is something I want to change. I want to start living my life in a way that paints people in a better light than they deserve. A life where I don’t wish I had been more sinful than I was and instead am grateful that Christ has helped me show self-control. I am praying that my stories in the future will show how God is using me to extend kindness and grace where normally none would be given.

I’m tired of letting the crazies rule my thoughts at the workplace. I am ready to dwell on my Savior and
let go of the pain their hurtful words can cause.