Why Your Testimony Matters

 

The purpose of a testimony is essentially to tell others how you made the decision to follow Jesus.

Chances are, if you’ve grown up in the church, you’ve heard these a lot.

Over the course of my 19 years, I’ve heard a fair share of testimonies.

I remember going to see Candace Cameron Bure at a women’s conference when I was ten. I was so impressed with her story and how her faith impacted her career. Hollywood and Christian morals don’t often align, so it’s been interesting to see how she’s staying true to God and making a difference in Hollywood at the same time.

In the back of my mind that day, I wanted to run away from home, “live”, and come back so I could have an incredible testimony too. I thought my testimony was too boring and insignificant.

Maybe you’ve felt that way too?

I was raised in a Christian home. I attended a Christian school from Pre-school through 8th grade. I was saved when I was four years old. I don’t even remember the exact date.

I’ve heard so many people in church talking about how their lives were so radically changed when they became a Christian.

I began to wonder if something was wrong with me. There was nothing radical about my faith. I don’t remember who I was before then.

One night in youth group, there was a lesson on testimonies. I initially rolled my eyes. It wouldn’t apply to me at all. Who would care about my boring testimony?

But the lesson basically explained that everyone’s testimony matters. Being a Christian is a lifelong process. It doesn’t stop when you ask Jesus into your heart. It’s a commitment to follow Jesus all the way. We’re all prone to sin and being “saved” doesn’t mean we’re perfect or exempt from temptations.

From a human perspective, we often try to rate sins. We may try to justify our actions by saying, “A little white lie isn’t so bad, but murder, well that’s just wrong!”

But that’s not the way God looks at sin. All sin separates us from God. All sin is wrong. No matter how harmful or innocent it seems to us, sin is sin.

As a four year old, I had sinned. I had fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). The wages of my sins were death, but through Jesus, I now had access to eternal life (Romans 6:23).

It can be easy to take salvation for granted sometimes, but think how incredible it truly is! Whether you were 4 or 94, the moment you chose to follow Jesus and accept forgiveness of sins, you were saved from eternal death. You now have hope of living with Jesus forever!

You were no longer defined by your mistakes, but by God’s grace.

Growing up, I was far from perfect. I would lie and manipulate to get my own way. I would hide the truth from my parents, wait a couple of years and then tell them. That way, the punishment wouldn’t be quite as bad.

I also back-talked quite a lot. I always felt compelled to give my two cents, even when it was obviously the wrong time to do so.

From the ages of 4 to 8, I probably asked Jesus into my heart at least 20 times. I wanted to make sure that Jesus would forgive me every time I sinned. I hated being in trouble, but I still loved lying and talking back. When it was less painful to lie than tell the truth, I usually did. On the outside, I was always a “good kid” at school, but very stubborn and strong-willed on the inside.

I guess you could say the perk to being saved from a young age is growing in Jesus as you grow in age. By seventh grade, I finally understood what a relationship with Jesus was all about. He wasn’t just someone we learned about in Bible class, but someone who genuinely wanted to know us personally. It wasn’t about how well I kept the rules. It was about how much I loved Him.

When my goal was to love Jesus, doing the right thing became easier. I wasn’t as much concerned with “getting in trouble” as I was with disappointing God.

Everyday is still a journey. I try to do what’s right, but inevitably mess up from time to time. That’s what makes following Jesus a lifelong process that is so worth it.

Every Christian has their own daily strengths and struggles. We can be encouraged to keep running the race (Hebrews 12:2) by hearing stories of what others have overcome with God’s help.

That’s why your testimony matters.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on testimonies.

How did you come to know Jesus? Have anyone else’s stories of salvation impacted your life?

Thanks for reading,

RaeAnn

If at First You Don’t Succeed… The Crippling Fear of Failure

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.”

I’m pretty sure everyone has heard this quote at one point or another. I remember seeing it on a poster in my 3rd grade classroom years ago.

Is it sound advice? Yes, I think so.

But in all honesty, I’ve never really lived by this motto, even since birth.

My mom told me the story about when I first started walking. I took a few wobbly steps while hanging onto the table.

But as soon as I let go, I fell.

I was maybe 6-8 months old at the time.

I quickly returned to crawling. It was effective enough and certainly less painful.

Somehow, I ended up learning to walk by the age of 13 months. But my response to failure as a baby has carried on for the last nineteen years.

Growing up, I was always tall. At age 2, I was 3 foot. By the end of Kindergarten, I was 51 inches tall. Maybe that accounts for some of my awkwardness and being so off-balance. Maybe not.

Here’s a confession and regret that I’ve carried throughout life: I can’t ride a bike.

I remember riding a bike with training wheels when I was younger. But I never rode a bike without them. I didn’t like the idea of getting hurt or falling. It just wasn’t worth it.

Today, I’ll ride an exercise bike, but that’s about it.

That fear of failure (and falling) has followed me through life.

I never went on the monkey bars until I was tall enough to reach them from the ground. I’ve never made it the whole way around a skating rink (I nearly wiped out, trying to let go of the rails so a 3-year-old could get around me!) And I’ve never made it to the top of a rock climbing wall, or past the first five steps, for that matter.

Fear of failure doesn’t stop there. It leaks its way into every facet of life.

Anything I struggle with, I quit. Anything that doesn’t come naturally, I quit.

That fashion show in 3rd grade. That computer project in 4th grade. That photography contest in 6th grade.

One try, and if it goes horribly, I’m done. I’ve packed my bags and vowed never to go down that same humiliating road again.

I’ve been told several times to not be a “quitter” and that “can’t” is not a word that should be in my dictionary.

Maybe you’ve struggled with this too?

I’ve given in to the fear of failure time and time again.

But one time, I had a breakthrough.

A few years back, I sent in a blog post to a popular Christian website. It was sent back to me with suggestions for improvements and a list of qualities they wanted to see in articles for their website.

At first, I started going into my cycle of “I quit”. My pride had been crushed.

But then, I began to realize that the feedback was 100% true. There was a lot of room for improvement, so I waited a while, prayed a while, and gave it another try.

Had I quit, I doubt you’d be reading this post today.

What made the difference?

I feel like God has given me talent for writing. (I admit I have absolutely none when it comes to riding bikes or skating!) This is what God’s calling me to do.

The rejected blog post reminded me of my dependency on God. When I tried to write a blog or ride a bike on my own strength, I failed. If God was in it and I gave my best, things went better.

That’s not to say that everything God calls us to do is going to be easy. But with God, all things are possible (Luke 1:37).

As Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) says,

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

When we humbly rely on God, we don’t have to be afraid of failing. That doesn’t mean we’ll never hit dead ends or have to try again, but rather that we never have to go it alone.

No matter what the outcome of our situation, God remains the same and our identity in Him remains the same.

What has fear of failure kept you from doing? What do you feel like God is calling you to do?

Summer is a great time to reflect on life and the desires that God has given us. Don’t let fear hold you back from living, like I have for so many years.

Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love – Romans 8:35-37 Devotional

The end of the semester is quickly approaching. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by everything that’s due over the next two weeks – studying for exams, finishing projects, preparing for presentations, etc.

But the good news is that we’re never alone. God goes with us, wherever we go. 

It’s hard leaving friends behind in the summer, especially for those who are graduating. But we can be sure that God will be at the mission field, at home, at a full-time job, or at summer classes with us.

Romans 8:35-37 (NLT) says, Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

Honestly, human love is very circumstantial. It’s easy to love those who love us and treat us well. It’s harder to love those who constantly let us down or ignore us. Sometimes we feel unloved by those closest to us.

But no matter what we’ve done in the past or what we will do is the future, God’s love for us is unchanging. Whether we have a six-figure salary or are struggling to make ends meet, God loves us. Whether we stay close to home or move to a foreign country, God loves us. Despite any mistakes we’ve made, God loves us.

My favorite part of this verse is the phrase “overwhelming victory is ours through Christ”. God not only loves us, but he also gives us victory. Victory over failures, victory over fear, victory over circumstances — overwhelming victory!

I hope that everyone has a great rest of the semester here at Cedarville and a fantastic summer break. I’m excited to see how God will work through each and every one of us this summer. And no matter where He leads, His love and overwhelming victory go with us!

I Could Never Count That High

Song Credits: “Count That High” by Jordan Feliz

Sometimes life gets crazy. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by upcoming exams and assignments. Honestly, when I’m feeling stressed by everything going on, I tend to put my relationship with God on the back-burner.

But the truth is that God never leaves or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5). He also provides us with the strength we need to make it through the day and gives us so many blessings.

Have you ever had a time where you knew God was there? Maybe it was an impossible situation and he made a way out of it. Maybe you’ve witnessed a health miracle or a grade miracle.

I’m so grateful that God works in many ways, and the other week, I know he protected me.

I work mornings at McDonald’s as a prep person. Part of my job involves getting condiments and other ingredients ready for lunch. I do most of my work at a counter with two shelves above it.

One day, as I was pulling out the counter to sweep under it, the top shelf came crashing down. There were heavy boxes with receipt paper that came tumbling as well. It made the loudest bang and four or five coworkers came running over. Thankfully, that heavy shelf landed on the counter.

I was shocked by the whole experience, but extremely grateful. I know God was there. That shelf could have severely injured anyone underneath it. But thankfully it didn’t.

This experience helped me truly understand the lyrics of Jordan Feliz’s song “Count That High”.

‘Cause I, know You never left my side
I try to count the blessings
I, I could never count that high
And every time that I try to add it up
And I’m not even close
The more that I try, the more that it chokes me up
‘Cause I’m not even close

What blessings has God provided in your life? Please comment below and let me know.

 

 

It’s OK to Mess Up – Romans 7 Devotional

Are you a perfectionist?

There’s nothing wrong with aiming for a 4.0 GPA or perfect attendance or any other accomplishment. But sometimes aiming for perfection can leave us feeling miserable if we don’t quite reach the bar we set.

It’s discouraging to give 120% on an assignment only to receive a lower-than-expected grade. Then I end up with a “Why bother trying?” mentality which is definitely not good.

When it comes to faith, I think every Christian desires to honor God. But once we become a Christian, our sinful nature doesn’t automatically disappear. There’s a daily struggle between choosing to live for our sinful nature or for the Spirit.

I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect Christian life, at least in the sense that we will never sin. God doesn’t love us based on our perfection or goodness. He loves us regardless of what we do, but is right there to help us stay on the right path. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with sin.

I absolutely love Paul’s honesty in Romans 7:15-25 (NLT):

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart.23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

This passage doesn’t mean that sin is inevitable. For our human nature, it is.

But since Jesus has freed us from sin and death, sin loses its power over us.

In Romans 8, Paul explains that when we live in the Spirit and focus on what God desires, we don’t have to be bound to sin. Through the Holy Spirit, we are free.

That doesn’t mean we’ll be perfect, but we no longer have to be enslaved to our sinful natures. When our full focus is on living for Christ, that frees our mind from sinful thoughts. Through Jesus, we have forgiveness from chance and peace in life.

It’s freeing to not have to strive for perfection.

It’s freeing to let the Holy Spirit control our lives.

It’s freeing to know that God still loves us when we mess up.

It’s freeing to live fully for God.