Tag Archives: testimony

Captain Obvious says, “God does not need you to embellish your testimony”

Some people have dramatic experiences when converting to Christianity. Others, like me, got there in a less eventful but no less meaningful way. The question is, Where are you today — right now — saved or unsaved?

I’ve heard of many people who exaggerated their testimony about how they became Christians. They think that having a more dramatic conversion experience will help persuade more people to convert. They are missing a few key points:

  1. God is still big on that honesty thingy. Lying about your witness is not a spiritual gift. He can accomplish all He desires with the truth.
  2. One of the beauties of Christianity is how God brings so many types of people to him in so many different ways. If all the public testimonies have a flair for the dramatic, it causes people to unnecessarily question their own conversion.
  3. If/when people catch you lying it will harm the cause you are trying to advance.

An example of item 3 is Ergun Caner, a convert from Islam caught making repeated and significant embellishments to his testimony (see Caner Debacle Gaining National Attention). This is sad on many levels. His real testimony was powerful enough, but now he is dragging his life’s work through the mud with his defensiveness.

Really, just stick with the truth. The power is in God’s ability to regenerate you, not in your ability to present it in a dramatic way. Rejoice over that.

Testimony

bible.jpgThe following is a rough draft of my notes for a testimony I was asked to give at church.  I typically write things out a bit and time them to ensure I’m within range.  Then I toss the notes and just use 6-8 bullet points.  The live version was shorter, more conversational and less dry.  But you’ll get the gist of it below.  I may expand on it later, but wanted to post it here and on a permanent tab above.

I was asked me to describe what God has done in my life . . . in 5 minutes or less. So either Pastor Trammell doesn’t think there is that much to say, or he knows that I talk as fast as he does.

The most important and obvious thing Jesus did was to save me. We don’t call Jesus our Savior for nothing. But saviors save people from something – and we’ve gotten out of the habit of completing the sentence.

In my case – and in yours, if you are a believer – He saved me from the wrath of a perfectly Holy and perfectly just God and he saved me from a well deserved eternity in Hell.

Here’s the short version of how He went about doing that and what has He done since.

I didn’t have a singular, dramatic conversion experience. With minor exceptions I’ve gone to church my whole life. The problem was that I wasn’t paying very close attention for the first, say, 28 years or so.

I sat in church most of my 20’s just to be sociable. By worldly standards I was a nicely dressed, relatively well behaved pagan who went to church and only fell asleep during sermons most of the time, and who didn’t trust in Jesus, read the Bible or really care what God said.

Then a few things happened. I noticed people using study Bibles which really helped explain the text, and that helped me understand it a lot better. Then God gave me the desire to read it more.

An FM rock station converted to a Christian format and inexplicably, I started listening to sermons and Bible shows while driving around. I learned countless things and started thinking about God multiple times per day instead of just once a week.

Ultimately God just let me see the truth: Jesus really lived, really died for my sins and really rose again. The evidence was there. I was a sinner, and I couldn’t save myself or forgive myself for my sins against God.

But He doesn’t just save us to fill up the seats in church. Just as He promised, He transforms our hearts and minds through his Holy Spirit and his word – provided that we don’t get in the way of them and that we actually read the Bible.

Also, as Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  As He transforms us our desire become more like his.  He has changed my desires in many ways and fulfilled them more fully than I could have asked for.

He gave me a real hunger for his word and learning about him and why we can trust his word. I actually like to read and teach the Bible.

He has transformed the way I think so that I see the world more like He does, regardless of what the topic is. He has given me an eternal perspective, so more often I think of things in a less worldly way. When in doubt, I try to agree with whatever He says.

He also converted my wallet, and took me from being very stingy to actually loving to give, and to looking for ways to give more and more to help advance his kingdom.

He took me from being afraid to teach Sunday school or even say a quick prayer in class to actually enjoying opportunities to speak about him. Before, I was petrified, but now it’s like, “Oh look – a microphone!  And I get to talk about Jesus?! You won’t be needing this back.”

I used to avoid religious talk at all costs, but He has given me the passion and the opportunity to share the Gospel with countless atheists and agnostics and people of every major religion and cult.

He took me from being selfish with my time to really enjoying serving others.  He gave me a passion to get involved in the pro-life issue, which I consider to be the most important moral issue of our time.  I’ve been a volunteer at CareNet Pregnancy center as a counselor, teacher of pro-life reasoning classes and board member – where we try to save lives now and for eternity.

I got involved in prison ministry. When I signed up for this Christianity thing I had no idea I’d end up encouraging and hugging so many convicted felons, and would actually enjoy studying the Bible with them.

There’s a lot of other things I’ve gotten involved with as well, such as going on mission trips.

I just got back from a fabulous trip to Honduras with my youngest daughter.  We did normal mission trip things, such as helping build a house, feeding children in the streets, passing out food and copies of the Gospel of John to every house in the area, Bible school classes each day, playing with the kids and more.

That’s her helping dedicate the new house and with a girl reading the Gospel of John. And that’s me with some of the kids who will live in the house.  Nine people in a house the size of your master bedroom – and that’s an upgrade for them.

As you can see one of the themes of the week was, “Personal space? What is personal space?”

My point is that the trip wasn’t work and it wasn’t done to say, “Look at me, I’m on a mission trip.” It was a joy – all week long. Serving the Lord in ways you enjoy and desire is fun.

You cannot experience real and sustained joy apart from the author of joy.

I give Jesus all the credit for any good things done in my life or from my life, and I am eternally grateful for him letting me be a part of his plan. It is all by his grace and has nothing to do with any good deeds on my part.

So my challenge to you is that whether you talk about it up here or not, really reflect on what God has done in your life. If you are like I used to be and haven’t trusted in Jesus as your Savior, then I encourage you to get with someone as soon as possible and address whatever objections or barriers you have.

So what has God done in my life? Everything that matters – for now and for eternity.

I love being a Christian, and whether He gives me 50 more minutes of this life or 50 more years, I want to be relentless about being a good ambassador for him.

Thank you.