Personal Lessons - Knowledge Based on Experience
My pastors and church staff came up with an excellent idea by asking all church members to submit their personal testimonies. The homework assignment has two benefits: 1) The writer can decide if they have a testimony. If they don’t, they can discuss the absence of such with a pastor; and, 2) The church staff will file the testimonies away so that when a congregant passes away, those who attend their funeral will hear the testimony read. Most Christians come away from funerals asking, “Did they know Jesus as Lord and Savior?” Testimonies reveal Truth.
Our Associate Pastor asked us to divide our testimony into three phases: Before, How and Now. I wanted to share mine with you. You, my reader, won’t have to wait until my funeral. You’re getting a sneak peek.
Before: I was brought up in a committed Christian home. Jesus was introduced to me as my Savior from the very beginning. My mother led me to the Lord by teaching me the bible and answering any questions I had. I was seven years old when I acknowledged Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. There was a time I lamented that I didn't have a heart pounding story to tell. I was in my 20's before I realized my heart pounding story was He has been part of me since I was a young child. He’s directed my path my entire life.
How: I can remember standing in church at FBC Deer Park. I remember the pew where I stood with my mother. I remember the song, "Just as I Am," playing. My mother looked down at me and asked, "Are you ready to ask Jesus in your heart?" I said, "Yes" to her and "Yes!" to Jesus.
Now: It's amazing. While I don't have a heart pounding testimony prior to accepting Christ, my entire life’s message is heart pounding. Jesus brought me through so much. He taught me humility since my early salvation turned me prideful. I can't possibly stop telling His story; even when unbelievers don't want to hear it or believers don’t like how I say it.
Here's the question – Are you ready to ask Jesus in your heart? All you have to do is ask. He does the rest.
“Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13
We carry our babies in our bodies. They are literally the center of our existence. They depend on us for food and nourishment. Our habits during pregnancy can determine everything about them in the years ahead. They depend on us for a firm foundation and an optimal start.
Our labor results in pain too great to describe, but too precious to forget. Our body slowly opens to release this precious little creature into a bright new world. Typically our babies cry out as a way to gasp for air, learning to breath on their own. We immediately seek to comfort them. We hold them close. The closer we hold them, they can pretend they never made the journey into the outside world. They are warm in our embrace and can hear our heartbeat just a few feet away.
We bring these precious creatures home asking ourselves, “What do I do with this tiny little baby?” Parenthood is the most important job we will ever do and it is the job we are least prepared to accomplish. Our mistakes may misguide them. We do the best we can. We don’t always do what’s best. God understands.
Their little tiny legs begin to crawl. Those legs support them as they stand for the first time. Their first steps are an amazing landmark in our lives. We can’t wait for them to walk and then we spend the remainder of our lives watching them walk away.
They go to school. They learn. They meet friends. They are typically mistreated somewhere along the way. We want so desperately to rescue them but we can’t. If we always rescue them, they will not learn to defend themselves. We are so afraid they will get hurt, but if we try to protect them from every danger how will they expand their horizons? We doctor scraped knees; we cannot heal broken hearts.
We want to protect them from the world. In doing so, we forget they are no longer deep within our bodies. They are no longer safe within our arms. They are no longer close enough for us to pick them up when they fall down. If we do not let go we, as mothers, make our children emotional invalids.
We can no longer act as if these children are lumped in with us. We must remember each child is a separate person and an individual personality. We may hurt with them but we cannot prevent their pain.
At some point, in every mother’s life, we must learn to let go. We must understand that the umbilical cord is cut at birth physically separating mother from child. We must also understand the emotional umbilical cord has to be cut if this child is going to reach their full potential. We must accept they will make mistakes but those mistakes are theirs to make. At some point, we must trust God when our influence runs out and the world comes crashing in. We must trust God and we must trust that our best efforts will eventually shine through.
Harsh words; kind words – we get to choose.
Arguments accomplish nothing;
So, what’s the use?
Healthy boundaries do not build rigid walls.
It is so obvious that pride comes
Before every fall.
Disagreeing isn’t a sin.
The trick is how you voice it.
At the same time,
Futile conversations become boisterous.
Attacking, aggressive, accusing words makes no sense.
Attitudes such as this just serves to make things more tense.
Harsh words; kind words – what’s it going to be?
Keep in mind Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek.”
Can we turn the other cheek and walk away?
Look to Him.
Be patient and pray.
*Poetry written by Roni Archer and is copyrighted along with the contents of this blogsite.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God knew me before my mother ever gave birth to me. When I fail, He forgives me; all I must do is ask. He removes my wrongdoings as far as the east is from the west. My name is written in His book and when He calls my name, I will enter eternity with Him.
Absolutely no one or nothing can change these facts or His opinion of me. No one.
I constantly pray and study about the difference between ego and integrity. Being a person who struggles with pride, I am probably too hard on myself. I have someone coaching me to understand that sharing and offering opinions does not constitute pride. I typically know when pride slips in and the desire to understand steps out.
My integrity has taught me to stand behind my words and actions knowing my reputation is built on my level of integrity. Ego takes a stand when I feel belittled or betrayed and can carve holes into my reputation. Humility is not stupid. Nor is it always silent. There was a time Jesus stood silent before His accusers and a time He spoke truth knowing the result would not be a good one.
Character starts with God’s creation called, “me.” Character defines who we are as an individual while integrity defines how we are within the masses. Integrity shines. It blinds some people because they don’t understand it. Character cares. Obsession over cares. I cannot make people like me, believe me, understand me, love me, accept me or accept Him. I can display what He has taught me when it comes to living for Him. Asking questions is not a sign of pride, it’s a sign of my willingness to learn and understand.
I’ve written before about how we often get sucked into black and white thinking believing that rules and laws guide our lives as opposed to His saving grace. Regimented people have their place but so do those of us who seek to connect by including others as opposed to offering the appearance that we are interrogating them.
Strong character understands and accepts that weaker people do not define our integrity. We define it for ourselves. And, as a wise friend told me recently, “There is a definite difference between responding and reacting. We usually regret our reactions but learn from our responses.” Thanks, friend.
God is working on me in the areas of integrity, character, pride, ego, caring, over caring, holding on, letting go, responding, reacting, listening, understanding and accepting. If you have any words of wisdom, I’m open to listening. I just might not agree. <wink>
Get ready because I will definitely ask questions to fully understand your thoughts. That’s where I see your integrity and learn about your character. I’m sure you know by now that mine is in full view for all to see.