Friday, November 20, 2009

A Testimony

Have you ever encountered someone whose life has radically changed because of Jesus? You know, the type of person that was totally lost before Jesus.

The pusher turned pastor.
The murderer turned minister.
The abuser turned anointed.
The sinner turned saint.

I can remember growing up in church an hearing about how someone was able to conquer the demons in their life because of Jesus. In Bible College I met many people who did not come to Christ until their adult years, including one guy who dabbled in things like the occult and satan-worship. When I heard their testimonies, and how real God was to them at the moment of their salvation and I saw how God was using them, there was a part of me that got jealous.

That's right; jealous. I used to feel that I had no testimony of my own. In my opinion there was no major life change that had occurred. I grew up in a Christian family with a strong Christian heritage. Everywhere I looked there were examples of faith in my grandparents and parents lives and examples of God's grace as they raised me to the best of their abilities. Going to church wasn't an option, it was a requirement when I was growing up. Dad was a deacon/sunday school teacher/ board member/ interim preacher while mom was a sunday school teacher/VBS worker/volunteer. Both were incredible examples to my sister and I. Not because they were perfect, but because they lived what they believed. What I saw in them on Sundays I saw on Mondays-Saturdays. It's no wonder that they raised a son to be a preacher and a daughter to be a missionary.

But this upbringing, in my younger mind, was no earth-shattering testimony. I used to think that growing up in a Christian family and carrying on that tradition was nothing to brag about. There are no surprises in that story. No life-altering, heart-moving moments. No one would shed a tear at that kind of testimony.

However, over the last several years I have started to come to grips with something. My grandparents' testimony was a life that was sincere and integral enough to produce God-honoring children. My parents' testimony is the same. As I have grappled with this idea, I have recognized that my witness, my testimony, my gift to God must be my children. This is difficult as I realize what this may entail. I have watched as my parents pray and support a daughter in Muslim Africa. I have heard the concern in their voices when their preacher son struggled to make ends meet because the small churches he served could not afford to pay much. I have seen them lay their Isaacs on the altar of God and give them to Him, and to be honest, the prospect of doing that with my children scares me.

But, I am my mother's testimony. I am my father's testimony. More importantly, I am God's testimony to the world that a life lived for God, no matter how "mundane" is a light that shines in darkness. If I am to stay true to my call, to my heritage, I must trust God not only with finances and choices and relationships, but with my most cherished possession, my children. I want my children to be God's testimony. To reflect their Father in heaven. That will be my testimony.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Once Was Blind...

Yesterday my wife had a PTO meeting to attend, which gave me the rare opportunity to watch whatever I wanted on TV while she was gone, so like most red-blooded American males the clicker clicked and ESPN tuned in. The show was E60, a sports news magazine that covers some of the more personal interest stories in sports.

One story, titled "Blindside" was about High School freshman Charlie Wilks (see the video @ ) who, because of a brain tumor, lost his sight at the age of five. It was an inspiring story of how a kid would stop at nothing to pursue his dream of playing football. His grandfather was an offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs and played in the first Superbowl. The story covered all the obstacles and objections that Charlie had to overcome just to play football.

I couldn't help but be moved by this young man's story. There were so many lessons to take from it, like when a teammate admits that Charlie's example makes him try harder. There's also the lessons of hard work and determination. But, by far, the most thought-provoking of the entire segment was when Charlie stated his biggest fear. It wasn't getting hurt. It wasn't not making the team. His biggest fear? Getting his sight back.

You heard me right. There's no need to re-read, and if you don't believe it, hear it in his own words by watching it yourself. Charlie Willks biggest fear is getting his sight back. Why? Because he, like many blind people, envisions the world to be a perfect looking place, and he doesn't want to lose what his mind's eye perceives the world to be.

There are so many things to take from this. I could talk of this young man's maturity as he learns to not only accept his condition, but chooses to thrive in spite of it. But as I mulled his words over, I couldn't help but wonder about the spiritually blind. Could it be that the real reason that some chafe whenever they hear the gospel is because it threatens their perception of reality? They feel their little world is perfect, and Jesus' call would shatter that world. His light of holiness would expose their flawed lives and sin-filthy souls, so rather than be cleansed and perfected, they choose ignorance and blindness.

Maybe some of you remember that dark existence. You might even remember the trepidation you first felt when the good news of the Gospel began to challenge your fictitious, perfect lives. But now you see. You see that the world is flawed, but you also see the danger before you are upon it. Remember your darkness when you proclaim sight to the blinded. Recall why they are fearful, and encourage them that Jesus wants to give them sight so that they can see the truth, and as Jesus said, "the truth shall set you free."

If I could speak to Charlie, I would tell him how amazed I am at his abilities, how impressed I am by his spirit and determination. But I would also tell him not to fear sight, for although the world is imperfect and ugly at times, the beauty of God's creation overwhelms the imperfections, and the same can be said of our re-created souls.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World

Living With Confidence in a Chaotic World is a refreshing, practical look at end-times prophecies. Dr. David Jeremiah looks at several passages, that at first glance may appear all doom and gloom, and mines out of them a message of hope and a call to return to practical Christian living. Admittedly, I was reluctant to pick up the book, because most books that deal with prophecy involve themselves so deeply in trying to "predict" the end of time, that they forget the point of the prophecy. Dr. Jeremiah does just the opposite as he outlines ten specific actions we can "stay" involved in, while anticipating Christ's imminent return.

The positives of this book are it's practicality to everyday life and the real-to-life illustrations woven throughout the teachings. It made the points easy to understand and easy to apply. The only negative was that I found this book simplifying truths to the point of redundancy. Some chapters that took twenty-plus pages could easily have said the same message in less than ten pages. This made the book, at times, a difficult read as you mulled, "didn't I just read this point." Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with their faith in the midst of troubling times.