The Good News…My Testimony
While praying one morning, I prayed that our churches would do more to reach out to the community. The church in this country in general seems to be so stagnant and complacent…or is it just me? What am I doing to reach out to our community? What do I do to make someone feel welcome when they walk into the church building on Sunday? How am I loving my neighbor?
So I was thinking, do people that I come in contact with know that I am a Christian? If not why (and shame on me)? And what can I do about that? How can I share the Gospel (the good news of Jesus Christ and our salvation)? How can I share this great gift God has given me? Paul says in Ephesians that we are saved by grace through faith; it is a gift of God. All we have to do is accept that gift and trust in Him. Without it, we are doomed. The Bible says in Romans that we are all sinners and deserve death, but through Jesus, His death and resurrection, we can be saved if we believe in Him. Jesus said that those who believe in Him will be saved; those who do not believe are condemned already (John 3:16-18, 36).
So, I will share with you what Christ has done for me.
I grew up in a loving Christian home with godly parents. But, there were other influences around me that drew me to the world instead of to God. Drugs (pot in particular, but not exclusively) and, to a lesser part, alcohol, were a part of my life, early in life. Church was not a time of worshipping God for me, but to get together with friends and continuing in a destructive life style. One year we went to a church camp and the message spoke to me. There was more to life than how I was living and I asked Jesus to come into my heart. Although I was raised a Christian and learned about the scriptures, I am not sure I really knew what that meant. I began reading the Bible and completed it in a year. I turned away from the partying, read my Bible and even brought it to school every day, but I did not have much of a prayer life. I did not have many friends outside of the church, especially with that Bible in my hand, even though I did not really share with anyone about God. I was very shy.
Then, I went to college. I began meeting friends and I no longer had the influence of my parents or church. I trusted in myself and what the world had to offer. I ignored the Holy Spirit and I wanted to fit in and have fun and be with the people who accepted me. Partying was very common in college and it was all around me. I began to be in a constant high, all day every day. I still got good grades (although they could have been better), so I figured, “what’s wrong with it?” I had lots of friends and I enjoyed it. But, I ignored any who did not party, including my family, and scorned those who followed Jesus. I continued this lifestyle after college and I rejected God. I still had this sadness within me. Sin controlled my life. I had friends, I enjoyed the time with them, but where was I going? God kept putting people into my life but I ignored it. I had some tough circumstances but I relied on myself and did not turn to Him. After all, I wasn’t that bad off, was I?
Then, I met Beckie and fell in love. We went through some really difficult times. We were living in sin. She was seeking and began going to church. I was resistant. Slowly I started going to church, when there wasn’t a good football game on. God started speaking to me that I needed to change my life. I needed to take care of my wife to be and help her to find the truth. She began meeting with the pastor and other Christians, so I supported her and went with her. I began to see that I needed to get right with God. God started working in Beckie’s life and she began to believe and trust that Jesus died for her sins; that through His death on the cross and resurrection she would be forgiven. Christ came into her life and changed her. After we were married I began to put my sinful life behind me. As far as I had strayed there is no way I could do it alone. It was the Holy Spirit who took charge in my life and changed me. I rededicated my life to Christ and became a new person, though not without struggles. My sins were forgiven, but I still had to deal with the consequences of my sin. Through Him, Beckie and I were able to get through all of it. Both of us were baptized to demonstrate our faith (this did not save us, but it was our testimony of our faith). As we struggled, particularly after I lost my job, He was faithful and provided. I believe God put me into this situation to wake me up and get my attention. It strengthened our trust and our relationship with Him and with other brothers and sisters in Christ. I realized that I needed to completely rely on Him. I no longer needed to get high to enjoy the things in life and I didn’t have to go through struggles on my own. He helped me to quit smoking pot immediately and completely and I have never turned back…not once. Also, by losing this job, a series of events occurred that ultimately brought us here where we were closer to the kids. I have a much better job and I was able to earn a Master’s Degree and He provided me with many opportunities to serve Him and help others; all because of Him. We had a hard time finding a good church, but He provided that, too, as well as good friends and people that we can rely on, to help us in times of need, to encourage us to grow in our faith and hold us accountable to live in a way that honors God.
God provided me with many opportunities to serve Him and help others; all because of Him. He has done a great work in my life (and is still working on me) and I thank God for that. My prayer is that He would work in yours too and that you accept that awesome gift He has given me that He offers to everyone.