LESS SCARY TESTIMONIES

I SCARED YOU LAST WEEK!

WHEN I ASKED YOU TO PREPARE YOUR TESTIMONY,

MANY OF YOU FELT LIKE THIS:

Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell

A FEW OF YOU THOUGHT IF YOU HAD A DRAMATIC PAUL TESTIMONY,

THEN MAYBE YOU COULD DO IT.

conversion-of-paul

BUT LIKE TIMOTHY, YOU CAME TO KNOW THE LORD AS A LITTLE CHILD

YOU CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER LIFE WITHOUT CHRIST.

REMBRANDT: TIMOTHY AND HIS GRANDMOTHER

REMBRANDT: TIMOTHY AND HIS GRANDMOTHER

I’M TRULY SORRY FOR SENDING YOU DOWN

THE DIVING BOARD WITH SO LITTLE PREPARATION!

YOU’VE CAUSED ME TO REPENT AND RETHINK.

I’VE ASKED FOR WISDOM AND I DO BELIEVE THE LORD HAS MET ME.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE SO SCARY.

IT IS VERY POSSIBLE TO MOVE FROM FEAR

divingboard TO EXCITEMENT AND VICTORY

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WITH A LITTLE BETTER PREPARATION!

WHETHER YOU ARE A TIMOTHY OR A PAUL OR A COMBINATION OF THE TWO, THERE ARE A FEW SIMPLE THINGS WE ALL CAN DO TO MAKE GIVING (AND HEARING) A TESTIMONY

LESS SCARY

LESS COMPLICATED

AND AMAZINGLY MORE EFFECTIVE!

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I’M ASKING FOR GRACE.

WILL YOU LET ME TRY AGAIN?

I realize you may want to be given a taste of where I’m headed before you commit. There are two things every believer can share, no matter how or when they first grasped the Good News.

1. Explain how you came to clearly understand how Christ delivers from the penalty of sin.

2. Share one specific example of how Christ is delivering you from the power of sin.

Several of you, both Timothy’s and Paul’s made the plunge at the end of the week — and I was SO THANKFUL. You did well! I want to take excerpts from several of you for you did show both how Jesus delivered you from the penalty and the power of sin. I think this is something we can all keep working on and polishing — so even if you were one that dove off the board, I’m going to ask you to dive again, simply by answering the questions in this study. Others of you will be taking your first dive when you answer the questions. Though it is true that first dives may be belly flops, if you don’t give up, I and your sisters who feel ready can coach you, helping you tweak until you can glide into the water and rise victoriously!

smiling elementary 5 year ols boy with wet hair, goggles and thumbs up over white

FOR WHEN YOUR “STORY” LIFTS UP CHRIST AND NOT YOURSELF

THERE IS POWER.

NEVER FORGET THAT THE GOSPEL IS DYNAMITE.

Romans116

REMEMBER THAT GOSPEL POWER

NOT ONLY CAN OVERCOME THE PUNISHMENT FOR SIN,

BUT ALSO THE HEART IDOLS THAT ENSLAVE EVERYONE.

TIM KELLER HAS FOUND ADDRESSING HEART IDOLS

IN OUR HARDENED CULTURE CAN HELP US

PRESENT THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL

WITH HUMILITY

AND

WITH THE POWER TO PIQUE CURIOSITY.

FOR EVERYONE WANTS TO BE FREE.

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I’M ASKING FOR GRACE.

WILL YOU LET ME TRY AGAIN?

 

SUNDAY:

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

MONDAY-TUESDAY: TIMOTHY EXAMPLES

REMBRANDT: TIMOTHY AND HIS GRANDMOTHER

REMBRANDT: TIMOTHY AND HIS GRANDMOTHER

2. According to 2 Timothy 3:14-15, when did Timothy begin to know the Lord?

3. According to 2 Timothy 1:5, what did Paul see in Timothy and his grandmother and mother?

TIMOTHY’S CAN EXPLAIN CLEARLY  HOW THE GOSPEL DELIVERS FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN WITHOUT TALKING DOWN, FOR THEY ARE RELAYING HOW THEY HEARD AND UNDERSTOOD AS A LITTLE CHILD.

Like Timothy’s grandmother Eunice, Lizzy’s grandmother impacted her life. Like our own Shirley, John 3:16 opened Lizzy’s eyes — and she had a funny story to help the hearers feel less scared. Her Catholic grandmother gave her her own holy water vase stuck on a plaque that had John 3:16 — but it was that verse that Lizzy read every night and helped her believe.

Now this is a chance for the “Timothy’s” to make the gospel really clear — as if telling it to a child. Lizzy could say, “I read that God so loved the world that He gave his own son, so that whosoever would believe would have everlasting life. Even as a little child I understood that Jesus paid for my sin and if I trusted what He did at the cross to pay for my sin, I would be forgiven.” Lizzy read John 3:16 every night as she lay in bed and God rescued her, as a little child, from the penalty of sin.

Here’s another Timothy example. My son J. R. put his trust in Christ in my Sunday School class at the age of 5. I had presented the gospel visually with a black heart, a red heart representing Christ’s cleansing blood, and a white heart representing forgiveness. J. R. raised his hand and asked if he could get that white heart. When my mother was 93, J. R. presented this gospel to her, and then asked her if she had ever asked Jesus to forgive her, to give her a white heart. And she said, “Would you help me, J. R.?”

Mary E. gave a beautiful Timothy example for her mother was so wise in how she talked to a child. I want you to note how clearly Mary explains the gospel. Here is Mary E’s story:

“When I was 5 I kept asking my mom to read to me from our Children’s Bible, the story of the creation and fall of man.  When she got to the part about Adam and Eve sinning I would say, “Why didn’t they die???  God said, “In the day you eat of it, you will surely die.”  My mom would say something to this effect, “Well, they did die, they died on the inside, their souls died.” (Spirits, really, but close mom!)  “and their bodies began to die.”  This seemed like such a severe punishment to me, for first time violators (I was very into second chances!) so I would then say, “But why didn’t God give them a second chance!!!!????” (I was pretty distressed about this!)  To which mom replied, “Well, He did give them a second chance, really the only chance, the same one for all of us.  God knew we would all disobey Him (sin) so He sent His son, Jesus, to take our punishment for us.  If we accept Jesus’s death on the cross as the payment for our sin, and ask Him to forgive us, come into us, and be our Lord, then we will have eternal life and spend eternity with Him in heaven when our bodies die.”  I pondered this for a while and then one Sunday, at church, during the “invitation hymn” I went up and told the pastor that I wanted to ask Jesus to come into my heart and forgive me of my sins.  He prayed with me and I believe that was when I truly became a Christian.”

4. What was helpful from the above?

5A. If you are a Timothy, explain how you understood what Jesus did for you — use John 3:16, a visual, or a short clear explanation. Make it more about Jesus and less about you.

TIMOTHY’S OFTEN GO THROUGH A TIME OF EITHER TURNING AWAY AND BEING BROUGHT BACK OR HAVING THEIR EYES OPENED TO SOMETHING THEY DIDN’T UNDERSTAND. THIS IS A CHANCE TO SHOW HOW THE GOSPEL CAN ALSO DELIVER FROM THE POWER OF SIN.

Lizzy told about her pride — which is so good — because it cuts down the assumption of the hearer “You think you are better than I am and you want me to be good like you.” Lizzy said that in her college years she realized her “goodness” was not earning her points, for Christianity is not a point system, but grace. Her pride had to die and she had to trust Jesus did it all.

Then she also made it clear this is a process, that she still has a messy heart, but (and I loved this) she is still that 5 year old girl who can talk to Jesus on her bed and know that He will cleanse her again.

Also she testified to His power in her life — giving her a hunger for Scripture, and helping her see others without the lens of judgment.

And Mary E. wrote: “Later, as a 14 year-old, through reading the book Joni, I came to understand that God didn’t just want to save me from the punishment of sin, but wanted a relationship with me!!   The God of the universe wanted to get to know me and for me to get to know Him.  So, it was then that I began to read His Word daily and have a deeper prayer life with Him.  So, so much has happened since then. It seems that there are always layers being peeled back and my understanding of Who He is grows deeper with the passing of time and I think we will never tire of getting to know Him more and more for all of eternity.”

Mary B. had a most interesting testimony. I am always moved by Timothy testimonies of a child in a very difficult situation and of how God came running. Here is an excerpt from Mary B’s: ” I was 8 before I realized my sisters were half sisters.  When I was 9, they were all court removed from our home.  I became very depressed, and blamed myself for all the problems.  I had been taken to church as a child, and knew that God was holy and I was not.  I could tell you that Jesus died for my sins, but it didn’t make sense.  I tried to make deals with God, asking for His help to get through the day.  After 2 years of that, as a young teen, I got down on my knees and surrendered.  I told God I was done trying to make deals.  If He wanted me, He could have all of me.  Since that day His death for me makes sense, I’ve known that I belong to Him and will be with Him in heaven.  He has brought emotional healing to my life, and filled me with a peace that others comment on.”

5B. If you are a Timothy, share how God clarified something for you later, or made you aware of an idol or a sin, and how running to Him is helping you. Make sure to explain it is a process.

WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY: PAUL TESTIMONIESconversion-of-paul(Interesting note — though most of the great paintings show Paul falling off his horse, my editor recently pointed out there is no mention of a horse in Scripture! Yet — still could be.)

6. “Paul’s” can give a snapshot of what they were like before Christ. At the stoning of Stephen, we have a snapshot of the before “Saul.” Find it in Acts 8:1.

Laura-dancer shared how two children were out of control, and they even had to put a son on house arrest. She was trying to control them and could not. The first night her son was off house arrest, he got in a fight, got punched, his teeth were hanging out, and he was hospitalized. Laura said, “I was at the lowest point of my life.”

7. “Paul’s” can share about how God came to them, enlightening them. How did He do it with Saul? Read Acts 9.

8.  What did Paul pray for in Colossians 4:4?

9. If you are a Paul, how did God come to you, enlightening you with the Gospel?

Laura shared how the gospel not only delivers from the penalty of sin, but also the power. A colleague suggested she listen to Nancy Leigh Demoss podcasts. Nancy said, “Is there something you need to let go of?” Laura’s tells of her response, the burden lifted, and the freedom.

10. Give another example of God helping you to be delivered from the power of sin. Think in terms of idols. Our own Liz gave a simple clear example when she wrote: “Many of the sins in my life became evident immediately. The comfort I found in the bottle was replaced by the comfort of my Savior.” Your turn.

11. For the rest of the week and next ask God to give you an opportunity to share a snippet or more — and to give you favor with the hearer and boldness and clarity as you share. Let us know!

SATURDAY:

12. What’s your take-a-way and why?

COMMENTS (104) Post a New Comment ↓
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Dee, thank you for your humility in asking to try again. I wasnt scared with the challenge. In fact I was glad you asked! To articulate my testimony was a beautiful reminder of what God has done in my life.  I do need to work on the flow so it does not need to sound like there are missing pieces.  So this weeks questions are helpful. I will definitely print the study to write in my responses so I can finetune my testimony even after we r done with the topic.

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    Thanks so much Bing — I was so happy to see you do it at the close of the week! And yes, we all need fine tuning!

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
The power of the Gospel. I too easily forget, too rarely consider, the power of the Gospel itself–not my words, but God’s, to transform hearts. When I meditate on this truth, the fear of sharing lessens, because it is not me, but Him–it is He who woos, who cleanses, who brings renewal. 
 
1 Peter 1:23: “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God”  Through the “living and abiding Word”–the Gospel, brings new, eternal life. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Hearing the Gospel leads to faith. 
 
So sharing my testimony, and that phrase alone has always made me a bit nervous!, but it is really sharing the Gospel and how it played out in my own life–and it is the Gospel’s power that does the work. My story doesn’t have to be dramatic or enticing n it’s own…the real Story is about the Hero. 
 
This, from Dee above: “FOR WHEN YOUR “STORY” LIFTS UP CHRIST AND NOT YOURSELF THERE IS POWER”
 
And I so loved everyone’s testimonies last week–such an encouragement to see how He has led each of us!

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re-posting link below!

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    Lizzy!  I love that old hymn!  Didn’t know Amy Grant sang it, but love it!  Like you, I was greatly influenced by Twila Paris and Amy back in the day. ;)   When I found out that a couple of Amy Grant’s songs that I most liked were actually written by Michael Card, then I began listening to him! :D  
    I also like your reminder that is is His story that woos people to Him, not ours.  And He graciously uses ours in the process, if we will let Him.  

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Lizzy — so true. That song by Amy Grant was one of Steve’s favorites. But I never expected you to link us to an Amy Grant song — but I love it.

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    oh Dee, I love it even more hearing it was a favorite of Steve’s! Amy Grant was actually HUGELY instrumental in my early years…8th grade, I was a bit obsessed and had the hair to match…even applied to Vanderbilt so I could follow in her footsteps. The Lord really used her music (and Twila Paris at that time) to woo me. Still love it! : )

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      So fun to learn this about you. You do have the hair to match her! :-)

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1.  What stood out?  Well, just wanted to say that I was not scared off by last weeks assignment!  Dee, I think you are always gracious and sensitive in your blog posts!  I do sometimes wish that I had a better “before” story to my testimony so that my “after” would be more obvious, but my story is just different than that of an adult who comes to Christ, not lesser…and I love that Lizzy reminded us that it’s not about our stories anyway, it’s about His story!  If we lift Him up, He draws people to Himself.  

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    I loved your testimony. And yes, that’s right. It’s His story!

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1.  “Gospel power can not only overcome punishment for sin, but also the heart idols that enslave”.  I’ve been suffering under a heart idol, but just today awoke to the fact that the gospel (Christ) has all the power I need.  But it won’t come to me passively.  I need to pick up the Scriptures and fight while crying out to Jesus to strengthen me in the battle.
 
4.  I don’t think of myself as a Timothy, because faith was not modeled or passed down to me.  Neither my parents or either set of grandparents believed, and the majority didn’t go to church.  But I don’t see myself as a Paul, either, because it wasn’t a sudden change of direction as an adult.
 
5.  I don’t know I understood what Christ did for me outside of the working of the Holy Spirit.  The process of my new birth was long and full of struggle, like a butterfly coming from the cocoon.  No person ever sat down with me and talked with me about it.  The Holy Spirit used snippets of Scripture, songs like ‘come into my heart, Lord Jesus’, and seeing Billy Graham on TV.

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    I can see how you don’t feel like you fit into either category, but the way you described it is beautiful, and also has the power of showing it was God wooing you from the time you were young.

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Putting my testimony into words is so difficult because it has been a lifelong growth in the power of Jesus. Maybe that is because of my selfishness (sinfulness).
Jesus’ love has always been real to me since childhood, but my rebellious attitude always causes me to struggle. After writing my testimony again it still contains too many I statements…
I have always feared sharing my faith because of stumbling over putting it into words.

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Lizzy, your verses are wonderful, I Peter 1:23 and Romans 10:17, Yes, the Word of God convicts and prayer unlocks the door, bringing me into fellowship with my Lord and Savior.
May God prepare the heart of the one for me to listen to and share the hope I have.
 

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    Love your heart Shirley — eager to see how you will answer questions.

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I got distracted last week, so I am particularly interested in this week!  Last week, I kinda got distracted thinking about what sort of a testimony might even seem relevant to an atheist.  And I was thinking from a Timothy perspective “How would this even make sense to her?”   This week seems helpful — because I have been thinking about it all week, just didn’t get back to reading comments.  Thankful God is in control!  When I think about a recent conversation, I realize that it could take me hours to come up with the perfect response, but that conversation & response would have been something I couldn’t have anticipated in advance.  God is calling me to be prepared… and to trust Him.  Still not sure how to proceed, but it seems as if being available is the most important part now.

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    Yay, Renee! Love how you see being prepared is smart. I often feel that way too and am getting better.

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Dee’s beautiful humility and kindness- although the challenge wasn’t scary for me either but I understand if it was for others. 
 
Also I loved this, FOR WHEN YOUR “STORY” LIFTS UP CHRIST AND NOT YOURSELF THERE IS POWER”
 

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    You have some such sweet things in your testimony Rebecca — and I love your testimony we have on video on overcoming the comfort idol!

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what stands out to me most is “what in the world did i miss last week!” :-) I read the first lesson but then got busy with my week and did not continue :-( I REALLY want to try to stick to it this week! 
I think the “God miracle” has been what God did in my heart WAY after I became a Jesus follower. My pride was hurting everyone in my life but I was so blind to it. I was truly convinced that if everyone would just do what I told them to do all would be right in the world. I made homeschooling and modesty and motherhood my gods…and they were not nearly as full of grace as my sweet Jesus is!!!! I always felt “not enough” I put so much pressure on everyone I loved but even more pressure on myself to hold up to impossible standards…..If im honest I still fight that temptation every day! Grace is so hard to believe in, she is elusive and does not reward like works do. My human, sinful heart still longs for perfection, even though I know what a fickle god it is. I struggle with believing that I need to be the kind of person that people look at and say “I want to be like that” or “I want what she has” the truth is all I have that people should want is Jesus. It is the Grace that he offers that I SHOULD offer to others…not an example of how they should act.

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I find it really hard to relate to people who do not have a relationship with Jesus. I really can not imagine a life where I did not know He was there, for As long as I can remember I have known HIM. long before I knew who HE was. Even Lily, when she came at 10, had an understanding that HE was there and all I had to do was tell her who HE was. It was as if I was introducing her to a penpal that she had communicated with all her life but had never met. It breaks my heart that this world seems to have hardened hearts to the point that they don’t hear his whisper any more. How in the world do you explain a relationship with Jesus to someone who has turned their hearts off to feeling his presence. I think of Hellen Keller when Anne told her about Jesus. she said “I know HIM!!!, I just didnt know HIS name”
 
I find it SO difficult to share Jesus with those who have not been drawn by Holy Spirit. I just can’t wrap my brain around knowing with my brain before I knew HIM with my heart.  I am not good at taking the Bible and trying to explain why someone should believe. I mean, believe isn’t even really the point is it?….surrender is… and why in the world would anyone surrender to someone they do not KNOW. this is a great quandary for me and I hope you can help me with it sisters :-)

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    Cindy — I think the vulnerable way you share how Jesus is delivering you from the power of a control idol speaks volumes. And I agree that if the Holy Spirit is not moving there will not be an openness. You are so winsome. I wonder if you could test the moving of the Spirit with a question like:

    I was really hurting everybody in my life when God began to open my eyes to what was wrong. I’d love to tell you the story if you are interested — but if not, that’s okay too!

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      I love it! thank you. I will try that :-)
       

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Cindy, your comments and questions are so real. I can so relate to that. Dee, your answer is so simple and appropriate.
Realizing what is happening with idols is important and I was blind to mine for so long. It is hard for me to say it well and keep it simple.

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    Thanks….my “realness” a blessing and a curse :-)

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
 
Dee, you are so cute! Of course you will be given grace. You gave a good example and I tried to comply. I think my testimony is too long, but it’s hard to explain without a lot of the detail. 
 
I also have a “Timothy” moment that I have told before. As I stood by my dying father (I was 13) I heard God tell me it would be ok; He would be my father, always.

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2. According to 2 Timothy 3:14-15, when did Timothy begin to know the Lord?
 
He knew about God through the “sacred writings” he was “acquainted with” as a child.
 
3. According to 2 Timothy 1:5, what did Paul see in Timothy and his grandmother and mother?
 
He saw sincere faith.

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2. According to 2 Timothy 3:14-15, when did Timothy begin to know the Lord?  As a child
3. According to 2 Timothy 1:5, what did Paul see in Timothy and his grandmother and mother? Sincere faith
4. What was helpful from the above?  I loved reading that your son was able (as a child) to immediately be one to share his faith and he lead his grandma to the Lord!  It shows that is you do not have to be a mature Christian, well versed in apologetics, sophisticated, with lots of training, in order to share your faith with someone.  It is as simple as “This was the condition of my heart, here is what Jesus did, this is what my heart looks like now!”  I had never heard a testimony before of anyone who was saved due to that color illustration, so it’s great to read about TWO such testimonies here!
5. If you are a Timothy, explain how you understood what Jesus did for you — use John 3:16, a visual, or a short clear explanation. Make it more about Jesus and less about you.  Through my mom, I knew that Jesus took the punishment of sin for me, if I believed Him and chose to accept that gift.  Without Him (doing that for me) I knew I would be guilty before God and deserving of death and I was so glad there was a plan in place for me to be spared experience eternal punishment, and to instead be given real life.  
 

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    That’s good and clear, Mary.

    My son was actually 40 when he led his grandmother to the Lord — but he shared the gospel as he had heard it as a child — was perfect — she had dementia. But she understood.

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      Oooooh.  That is perfect!  I guess I should have figured that out, since his grandma would not have been 93 when he was 5!  Sometimes all the synapses in my little brain don’t fire quite right! ;)

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Just noticed there are 2 #5’s, Dee. :D

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    Thanks Mary — I made them 5 a and 5b

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2. According to 2 Timothy 3:14-15, when did Timothy begin to know the Lord?
Early childhood, NIV says “from infancy”.
 
3. According to 2 Timothy 1:5, what did Paul see in Timothy and his grandmother and mother?
Sincere faith. MSG says “honest.. rich faith”
4. What was helpful from the above?
I love Mary E.’s sincere questioning and her Mom’s focus on God’s mercy! I think her testimony is really, really powerful because our nature is to look to what seems “unfair” or harsh about God’s judgement—I think her question is child-like in simplicity, but really the core of what any aged unbeliever struggles with—God’s judgement. But her Mom’s answer fully displays God’s rich mercy, His heart and compassion towards sinners. 
 

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    My thoughts exactly about Mary E.’s tesitmony

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5. If you are a Timothy, explain how you understood what Jesus did for you — use John 3:16, a visual, or a short clear explanation. Make it more about Jesus and less about you.
I think I need to keep working on this, but here’s what came to mind, not too clear or short though!—In my Catholic Church, you normally received your 1st Communion in 3rd grade. I asked to go through the class in 1st, and for some reason they let me. I received a small white book of the Stations of the Cross. I remember looking it through it in my room, over and over, and crying over the pictures. At some point, He made the connection for me—of that Holy Water plaque inscribed with John 3:16 that I’d memorized, and the vivid, gruesome pictures of the Cross. I really remember a moment, sitting on my floor, up against my bed, and just feeling overwhelmed that He went through all of that, for me. I still had much to learn—I was confused for a long time about wanting to somehow ‘pay Him back’ with my goodness, though I never realized that’s what I was doing. It wasn’t until much later that He would show me the sin of my self-righteousness, but as a young child, I just remember the tiniest beginning of seeing the cost of the Cross.
 

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    Lizzy, I really have come to think that for some people, the process of salvation does not always have a neat, line-in-the-sand, “here is when I was lost, here is when I was saved” appearance (from our perspective, anyway, God may see the line.)  Your situation (being raised Catholic) was vastly different than with me (being raised Southern Baptist, where every church service was practically a Billy Graham Crusade! ;))  Your precious little girl heart was obviously awakened by His love at a very young age.  Was your absolute moment of salvation as a small child or teen/young adult?  God knows, but I think it’s totally fine just to explain the process, just as you have here on this blog.  It’s just like you said earlier, it’s really His story that matters anyway.  

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      a friend once told me that she wanted to know so badly when she had been saved.  The Lord told her there are two ways to tame a horse.  In one, you get on and when the horse quits bucking you know it was tamed.  In the other, you feed it apples and carrots, touch it, someday put a blanket on it, and continue on in that way until the day you get on and ride.  When was that one tamed?  I’ve always loved that, for it perfectly explains our different experiences.

        Mary, I love this comparison of taming a horse! Preparing the heart reminds me of being in the Christian home and getting fed and comforted and gradually it is personally realized and the gift accepted.

        Thanks a great analogy, Mary B!

        Great illustration, Mary B!

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      So true, Mary E. It is His story! And really, for all of us it is a process.

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    Lizzy: Be sure to keep this vivid sentence: I really remember a moment, sitting on my floor, up against my bed, and just feeling overwhelmed that He went through all of that, for me.

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4. What was helpful from the above?
 
How sweet each of the stories are about little children who had BIG, unquestioning faith!
 
5. If you are a Timothy, explain how you understood what Jesus did for you — use John 3:16, a visual, or a short clear explanation. Make it more about Jesus and less about you.
 
In my story about my dad dying, I just had been raised to believe, period. I knew God loved me. I know it’s hard to understand, but He “spoke” to me at my father’s deathbed to reassure me that He would always be there for me. I guess mine would be like J.R.’s? My dad was my “visual?”
 
Incidently, I know people who believe in life on other planets, ghosts, and other strange things. I wonder how they couldn’t believe in God?

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    I think because aliencs and ghosts don’t ask for commitment of their lives!

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5b. If you are a Timothy, share how God clarified something for you later, or made you aware of an idol or a sin, and how running to Him is helping you. Make sure to explain it is a process.
God used the Parable of the Prodigal Son to open my eyes to my sin of self righteousness. I had heard the story many times, always envisioning my rebellious sister as the younger son, and I held the position of the older son, only I did not realize that wasn’t a place of honor. The younger son’s sin was obvious, I had always related to the older son’s frustration with him. One day in college, my eyes were opened and I was melted. I saw the ugliness of my pride and how I was the “lost” son, how I had tried to cover myself with my own good deeds, my own righteousness. I began to see that while my sin had a different, ‘cleaner’ outward appearance, the inside of my heart was wretched and dark. My pride was deep sin in desperate need of a Savior. I still struggle even subconsciously try to earn His approval, this tendency to want to clean myself up before I come to Him. But He is patiently, tenderly, showing me more and more of my dependence on Him, and the overpowering measure of His grace. I can rest from my performance treadmill, and relax in His arms of mercy. It is most definitely a PROCESS! I daily must remind myself to stop trying to create my own righteousness, and lean fully upon His.  
 

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    Very good, Lizzy. Thank God you could see. We did Prodigal God for one of our studies esp for some older brothers — but to my dismay, they just couldn’t see it.

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6.  I continue to learn and grow the long and hard way, but His presence is my treasure, and looking back His hand is so clear.
 
8.  Paul asked for prayer that he declare the gospel clearly.  Boy, do I relate to that!  To give earthly words to something that is a spiritual reality needs heavenly help.
 
9.  How did God enlighten with the Gospel?  Once I made that step of prayer, I had a huge hunger for God’s word.  I read it over and over, and even slept with it under my pillow.  I prayed that He would help me absorb it, even in my sleep.

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    Mary B., yes I can relate to your long, hard process. His presence is a treasure.
    I, too, struggle to give words to my spiritual knowledge and keep seeking his help.
    I love the words of God and pray them and seek to share the joy, and am trusting He will provide the words for each one He brings to my path.

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5B. If you are a Timothy, share how God clarified something for you later, or made you aware of an idol or a sin, and how running to Him is helping you. Make sure to explain it is a process.I love the “process” part.  So true!  I am stuck though.  I’m thinking of how God’s love soaked into my heart during the SoS study.  AND, I’m also thinking of several people. who don’t know Jesus AND are having or have had a tough time at work.  It’s a difficult place to work, and the main reasons for the difficulty are (un)ethics-related.  HERE’S WHERE I AM STUCK:  I’m not sure if it is easier for me than it used to be because God got through to me or because I’m getting out.  I suspect it’s a combination of both.  I’m thinking about the importance of letting people know about Jesus — and what I’ve really let them know is that I’m leaving.   Ok, I am thinking as I am writing.    Last spring, it was crystal-clear that it was time for me to give notice, and I’m pretty sure it was the Lord who made it crystal clear.  Maybe it’s okay to acknowledge that I’m okay, both because of the extent of God’s love for me and because I am leaving???  Even though I know I will need to find another source of income, I have SO MUCH peace (ha! maybe too much).  THAT is God’s grace.   Hmmm… still pondering how to make this clearly fit together.    (Might post a related prayer request on FB, have good opportunities)

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It’s definitely okay because it is the truth!

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What stands out to you?
The “Gospel power not only can overcome the punishment for sin, but also the heart idols that enslave everyone…”
I never understood heart idols until I heard you speak of this, Dee. Then I read the book, Idol Lies.
Yes, I am working on revising the one minute testimony.
Timothy had a sincere faith as did his mother and grandmother. He knew the Holy scriptures from infancy and how they were powerful to gain wisdom.
I was blessed to also have a mother and grandmother who knew the power of the Holy scriptures. They had both become widows as young women and knew the power of God who had been their “strong tower.”
I memorized John 3:16 and knew that Jesus had paid for my sin when he willingly went to the cross. I knew I needed a Savior
because I was not always obedient, and developed a strong faith in childhood.
But my rebellious nature took me on a far off journey and I knew I was sinning, but a nurse with whom I worked was a mentor to me. Jesus knew my every need and set me free by his grace.
In my struggle with a dysfunctional alcoholic family I ran in despair to my strong tower. Jesus comforted and taught me, and the layers started to peel revealing my co-dependency. God’s Word in Psalm 19:12, “Who can understand his errors?” I poured out my heart to God. My journey continues as the idols of approval and control are being removed and Jesus is changing my desires. May God be glorified. He is wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God!
 I love the song by Laura Story, “What if your blessings come through raindrops?”

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    Shirley — this testimony ministered to me — of your mother and grandmother widowed young and finding God to be a strong tower. He has been that for me, and I find myself needing that to continue to be.

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    Shirley I love your testimony. I can see how the Lord can use this His-Story for your life to connect with many people! How did your nurse friend mentor you? What made an impactful connection to you in her mentoring?

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      My nurse friend, Meda, modeled her faith in Christ in every area of her life. She spoke openly to her patients of their need for a Savior as they shared their struggles. She took me to church, invited me to her home, and willingly helped me whenever she had an opportunity. Basically she loved me back to Jesus.
      It was what I needed at that time.

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10.  The biggest deliverance for me has been how God has healed and brought emotional stability to me.  Currently, He is working on my eating habits.  This, too, has been a long and slow process.  My goal is not just to be the weight I ought to be, but to be free of always thinking about food, and also free of always wanting to be thin.  The goal is to be satisfied with Him, and let Him direct the rest.
 
11.  Take away.  It is OK that I am a blend of Timothy and Paul.  God made my story unique, but also one that many people can relate to on some level.  And that is for His glory.

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    That is a good goal. I think I have experienced some freedom from thinking about food as I have been replacing my idol of comfort with Him. I have finally lost the 20 pounds I gained when Steve was diagnosed and there is a real sense of freedom in that. So I pray for you and me, Mary~

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      i appreciate your prayers more than I can say.  Thank you.

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Update on the cancer (will try to keep it brief!)  My tumor marker (antigen in the blood they look at for breast cancer) has continued to rise.  Over the past two months it has almost doubled from where it was 3 months ago.  My pain has gotten a tad better but I still have far less energy.  So, I saw my oncologist today.  Despite all the scans (CT scans, MRI, full body bone scan) showing no spread of the cancer (grossly) she believes it is spreading on a cellular level, we just can’t see it on the scans yet.  She said that at this point we could just watch it for another month or two, remaining on the same medication for now, or just go ahead and switch to another mode of treatment now.  I told her I’d like to give it at least another month, just in case the tumor marker drops.  The treatment she wants to switch me to (when we are sure this one has run it’s course) is probably harder, with more side effects (an injection plus a pill.)  I am planning to try a couple more “alternative” type things (cause I feel I have little to lose) and I’ll see my oncologist again Dec 5th (sooner if I go downhill.)  
As soon as I got in my car I immediately felt like crying, but then I just felt like the Lord was saying, “There is so much more at stake here, Mary, than your physical condition.  Trust ME!  There maybe a person I want you to meet in all this.  There maybe a way that I am going to use this for eternal good. There maybe treasures in heaven, that will not rust or corrode! Trust ME!”  So I was able to thank Him for this news, and feel truly comforted by THE Comforter.  I know this is due to the fact that people are lifting me up in prayer.  I truly feel so blessed when I consider all of this. 
Thank you all so much.

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    Mary, this could be hard news, but you are right to talk and trust in God. He is in control and will have His say in this matter. I will continue to pray for your condition (I don’t want you to be in pain), and that God will continue to bless you in your life. I am in complete agreement with you about the eternal good. Here you are, giving us hope; thank you. ?

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    Oh Mary — I weep with you. This is hard news. I am so thankful for you and your trust — and I am praying for you. You are a very dear sister.

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    Mary, continuing to pray for you in this journey. I am also continually in awe and amazement at how God meets you every time in this – the tender words of hope He speaks to you. It very much reminds me of Dee’s husband Steve, as he realized the battle was to continue to honor and glorify the Lord.

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    Mary e Thank you for this update. Your last paragraph so blessed me. I want to share with you The Lord just gave me my 2nd opportunity this week to share my one minute testimony with a 2nd client of mine. I shared also the Max Lucado story of “You are Special” that you talked about on the blog a few weeks ago about the stickers the stars and the gray dots ( I think it was you???) It was such a special time of sharing and I am believing the Lord is going to have used it to water this persons soul. Praying for other things and people to come in and water some more. It was your reference to that book that led me to go out and buy it for my grand nephew for his birthday and I read it last night. So beautiful thank you.
    Lord Bless Mary. Thank you that she can hear your voice saying that there may be a way You will use this for eternal good and I stand in agreement with her on that.
    Lord Be Glorified

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Mary, thank you for sharing and yes, God is at work in your life. Your testimony is wonderful and I know many are being blessed. Praying for you.
 

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I went to a Baptist church as a child (although my mom is Catholic [my dad is an unbeliever] since she wasn’t taking us to church so she let a neighborhood church bus pick us up.) I “went forward” around the age of 11, but I was unclear about what salvation was. I thought that I had to ask for forgiveness repeatedly. I thought that if I died with unconfessed sin, that I would go to hell. I quit going to church at 12 years old and although I prayed ritual prayers (Our Father, Hail Mary, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep…) every night it had very little effect on my behavior.
When I was 16 while I was babysitting, some people came to the door and asked me if I died that night would I go to heaven. I replied that I didn’t know because I wasn’t sure if I had sinned that day. When they explained the once saved always saved concept to me I was relieved. However, this took me down a road of believing that it didn’t matter what I did as long as I believed Jesus died for my sins, I was going to heaven no matter what.
It wasn’t until I was 19 and living with my husband who was in the Army, that I met a woman (a total stranger to me that I had to live with for 2 weeks until our housing was available) who kept inviting me to church. I didn’t want to go (she went 3 times a week what a freak!!)  I finally decided to go with her just to get her to stop bugging me about it. The Lord grabbed a hold of me. Suddenly all the little bits and pieces that I had heard along the way made sense and I could see so clearly God’s hand throughout my life. (I had met my husband as a child at that Baptist church).  Everything in me changed, I quit drinking, smoking, doing drugs, swearing and I wanted to serve Him because of what He’s done for me not just get into heaven.
My life has in no way been perfect since then and I know that it may seem to some people that I’m not “much of a Christian”, but I always clung to Christ in spite of  and because of my weaknesses and failures.
 

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    Dawn, this is a touching story! God kept gently, sweetly guiding you to Him! I love the “what a freak!” line! Lol! What do you mean that people don’t think you’re “much of a Christian?” When we met, as I recall, you were very kind to me. That is a model of a Christian. 

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    Dawn this is such a testimony of the persistent Hound of Heaven who loves you so. It encourages me. Thanks so for sharing it. It definitely lifts up God.

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    Oh Dawn!!!  This is a CLEAR testimony of a changed life and in this testimony you share so many misconceptions that so many people have!!  Nearly any non-Christian could relate to this!  And I love that you went to the woman’s church “just so she’d stop bugging me!” :D  Because that tells me that even if my inviting someone to a church thing “bugs” them, the Lord may just use that invitation to “get ahold of them.”  VERY encouraging, Dawn to all of us who have bugged someone!  Last week you seemed very concerned about all of this and yet you have SUCH a testimony!!  Like Dee said, HE pursued you relentlessly! I am so glad we are doing these testimonies for more than just practice…it encourages my heart to read them. 

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    Dawn–wow! Your testimony speaks to His relentless pursuit…gives me much hope for one in my life who I think has fallen into that ‘once saved…’ trap. And I love this: “Suddenly all the little bits and pieces that I had heard along the way made sense and I could see so clearly God’s hand throughout my life.”

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    Oh Dawn, How I love your story! Thanks for sharing, and it is like a friend of mine’s who is studying the Word with me. God’s love comes to us in so many ways .

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    Dawn, I love your testimony, and I identify with it as it was a journey for me, too, until it all came together and made sense. And, I admire your faithfulness and your steadfastness to keep believing, to keep turning to Him, to not give up nor turn away, through all the trials, pain, and hardships you’ve endured.

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7. “Paul’s” can share about how God came to them, enlightening them. How did He do it with Saul? Read Acts 9. 
 
He was struck to the ground by an intense light, which ended up being God. God spoke to him asking why he persecuted people who believed. When he got up (dazed) he couldn’t see. He was mute for several days until he “woke,” and from hat day forward accepted Christ and made sure he told his story to everyone.
 
8.  What did Paul pray for in Colossians 4:4?
 
He prayed to give a clear testimony.
 
9. If you are a Paul, how did God come to you, enlightening you with the Gospel?
 
Although I had always believed, I needed a nudge. All along, I had the choice. I was never forced to believe or to take action. It’s so weird because I also thought I was always doing the right things. It took a friend to point me in the right direction, and for me to actually stop talking and doing things that I thought were right, before I “heard” what God needed me to hear. I “gave up” myself to Him. When Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth spoke her words, God made sure they were the ones I needed to hear. It all came together and “clicked” just perfectly. I now know that this can happen again and again, if I just stop and wait for Him to speak to me. It has happened a few times since that day. My biggest lesson was to be still instead of acting on some situation. To wait. To wait for Him to guide me. It really brings tears to my eyes to think of how He speaks to me this way. It also brings joy! It makes me excited to think that He will speak to me again, and I can’t wait for that time. It is perfection.

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    Laura — so good. To pray and wait and listen. So hard but so good.

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    Laura–I needed this reminder this morning: “My biggest lesson was to be still instead of acting on some situation. To wait. To wait for Him to guide me”
    “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

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7. “Paul’s” can share about how God came to them, enlightening them. How did He do it with Saul? Read Acts 9. 
Paul was on his way to Damascus to kill Christians. He had hatred in his heart for Jesus. Then God intervened and seared his heart immediately-right there-His light making him fall to his knees. Paul knew it was God and when He said He was Jesus his eyes were opened right there.  Nothing of his own doing..no time  to  ponder or think about it-God made Himself known. 
8.  What did Paul pray for in Colossians 4:4?
That he may make the Gospel clear while in prison.
9. If you are a Paul, how did God come to you, enlightening you with the Gospel?
In a nutshell, I was a woman living for herself, getting drunk a lot, pushing the envelope-desiring to top Madonna, and breaking my mom’s heart. The Christians I came across were afraid of me and avoided me. I really do identify with Karla Faye in a lot of ways. God intervened in my heart through my brother with His Love. My brother, who was normally unkind to me was kind and that blew me away. Then when I saw his Bible i knew it was God and God was real and Jesus started melting my heart with His love. He already was wooing me through my child hood, but I saw Him through my brother for the first time. Jesus wasn’t just in the movie Jesus of Nazareth-one of the ways He wooed me-He didn’t just walk among us and die on the cross-He is alive and I see Him in my brother and how He has changed him-HIS POWER ALONE. So after my brother shared the Gospel with me, God intervened on an airplane as I was looking out over His amazing clouds. I can’t remember how I prayed but I remember my heart surrendered and I responded to Him and He gave me His Holy Spirit. I could see light and dark for the first time and I felt, as Karla Faye describes, his Love like a cocoon around me-just enveloping me..I felt like He took all that crud out of me and filled me with His love-I felt free in His love. I went and told everyone I knew that He came to me, that I know Him now, that they can know Him too-how He is alive. Whenever I get together with my friend who was my friend before and after, she says, “yeah, you wouldn’t believe it..one day, Becky was wearing ripped hose, drinking, making up cuss words, and the next day she was wearing a very modest dress holding a Bible.”  :)))   
 
So He took this Madonna, this Shulamite Maiden, wooed me and we became one and He calls me beautiful. My chains are gone, I’ve been set free,  my God my savior has ransomed me! :)

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    oh REBECCA–your testimony–just amazes me every time I hear it. His POWER to pursue, to break your heart, and transform you into the BEAUTIFUL reflection of Him that you are…such amazing grace! 

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    Loved reading your testimony here, Rebecca!  I have one question:  at any time, after you realized your brother was a Christian and he shared Christ with you, did you get mad at your brother or offended?  I mean, did you just very readily receive it and accept it, or was there a space of time in which it was uncomfortable between your brother and you?  

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      Mary E-great question. no I didn’t and I think it was because I knew he loved me and he cared. There was “genuine” love..not forced. There was a conversation about a year prior when I was into going to psychics and thought tarrot cards were exciting. I called him to tell him about it. He said in love, “Becky, I would stay away from that stuff, it is dangerous.” Then I recall telling him it wasn’t, but he dropped it. Didn’t push it with me. I could tell he said it out of concern and not judgment. 
      This reminds me..I’ve been asked to teach the lesson to our teen group this Wed..We are doing a series on Jesus and our image. guess what it is about? Evangelism.  :) WHAT a challenge for me! The great part is the passage I will teach Luke 7:36-50 and 1 Peter 2:21-24. 
      At the end I am to show them this video of an atheist magician-who still is-who was approached by a Christian, who knew he was an atheist, after a performance: https://youtu.be/6md638smQd8

        Rebecca: WOW!  That video is INCREDIBLE.  I remember a video of Rebecca Pippert in which she said something like “there will always be an awkward time at some point when sharing Christ”  She might have even said a point where the person is offended.  I’m glad to hear that you were not offended and glad that this atheist said that he respects Christians who care enough to risk being offensive!  “If you truly believe there is a heaven and hell and that someone is going to hell (or not to heaven) if they don’t believe, then what kind of a horrible person are you, if you chose not to share!!!????”  That is powerful and very insightful for a non-Christian to make a statement like that!  If Dee has not already seen this video, you should make sure she does!! :D 

        Mary-Yes! I agree there will be times it is awkward. I do believe this brother was led by His Spirit..which makes it different than just walking up to people forcing it down their throats out of duty. It is apparent the atheist saw Jesus in him and I think that made a bigger impact than if he would have shoved the Gospel down his throat out of duty. This atheist debates Christians all the time but apparently this guy was different.

        Mary E, how are you doing??? I love you tons and am praying..Speaking of evangelism, God is moving through you to draw others to him-even on this blog. Your sharing of how God has been good to you through this..how you press in to him when in pain and in doubt always encourages me. It is His power so evident in you. I am SO glad God brought you here!

        Rebecca (and Mary E) I watched the video. Such a good example of the importance of love!

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Rebecca — this is beautiful. It lifts up God and shows that His love broke through to your brother and then to you. Great job!

 

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    Isn’t He amazing how He pursues us not despite our ugliness but while we are being ugly-and then then covers us in His beauty..Even though we were breaking His heart He became the sacrifice for our sins so that we could become One with Him.. He has brought us to his banquet hall and his banner over us is Love! Makes me not want to break his Heart and when I do, run to Him for he is the lover of my soul. Yet even that is Him in me..Amazing Love how can it be??

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10. Give another example of God helping you to be delivered from the power of sin. Think in terms of idols. Our own Liz gave a simple clear example when she wrote: “Many of the sins in my life became evident immediately. The comfort I found in the bottle was replaced by the comfort of my Savior.” Your turn.
When my son turned from the faith my control and comfort idol became evident in the way I responded and I hurt my son-driving him further from God but God intervened and helped me let my son go to His control. The security I placed in the assurance of my son’s salvation was replaced by His comfort and control. This pain has been a gift for Psalm 46: 1-2 has become alive for me: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. 

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    Perfect example, Rebecca!

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9. If you are a Paul, how did God come to you, enlightening you with the Gospel?
 
I have worked through this study but won’t post other answers since others have already done that, and done it well! I was pondering about Paul….I know that many “Pauls” relate that someone was praying for them. Was anyone praying for Paul to come to know Jesus? We’re not told. Since I am also a “Paul”, I look back and wonder if anyone was praying for me? There was no one in my family who ever talked to me about God, or Jesus. We did not go to church. My grandma belonged to a reformed church and would sometimes take me to church with her. She did give me a book of children’s Bible stories but I don’t remember her talking to me about Him. She died when I was twelve. My grandpa, I remember, would kneel by his bed and say his prayers, but we did not talk about God. He died when I was sixteen. I do not think, because my mom and dad were not Christians, that they would have prayed for me. My two sisters were not Christians. It makes me want to cry when I think about, how did God find me, how did God see me?
 
When I got baptized as an adult, part of my short testimony was that I KNOW that salvation is ALL of God, because I didn’t know anything about Him and didn’t know I needed Him. No one told me about Him. So, how could I have done anything or had any part in it?
 
Part of my journey is that I started going to church by myself when I was in high school and college. However, I remember dressing up in this white dress with little blue flowers on it, and I thought that I was good and I sure looked the part outwardly. In reality, though, in college I was sexually immoral, I partied, drank, danced on tables at bars, and cussed. I lied, too. I believed that conforming to what was in Cosmopolitan magazine, which I would read, was what a young woman was to do. I was very much into beauty – my appearance, and I was very proud and self-absorbed.
After college, I met my husband, who was Catholic. I began to occasionally attend Mass with him. In this part of my journey, I believe the Lord began to woo me by giving me this longing to be a part of whatever this was; I saw these people who went to church as a family, and I very much wanted to belong. After we married, I decided that I wanted to become a Catholic. I still believed that being a Christian meant belonging to the church. I chose a longer program – nine months of instruction. At the end, there was a retreat held at a park, The speaker, a woman named Pat, talked about the verse in Matthew in which Jesus says that all who are tired, weary, and heavy-laden can come to Him and He will give them rest. She told us to close our eyes and to imagine Jesus standing there waiting for us. She said that it didn’t matter what we had done, but that He wanted us to come to Him. For the first time, I had conviction that I had done wrong things. I clearly imagined Jesus standing on a bridge over a lagoon on the grounds of an estate, which is a museum, where I spent a lot of time as a child (I would go through the woods, climb over the fence, and walk the grounds of a place called Stan Hywet Hall, the home of the Seiberling family, the man who founded Goodyear.) It was a most beloved place where I spent a lot of time, and it wasn’t like I was “imagining” Jesus, it was very real….hard to explain. I wanted so badly to go to Him, and in my mind, I could hear my footsteps up the steps to that bridge and running to Him, and He opened his arms and embraced me, and it was like I could feel my cheek resting against the softness of his shoulder. I began to weep at the retreat, and I was embarrassed and tried to hide my face behind my hair. I wondered if anyone else felt like me. My husband, who was there, was anxious to get out to the car to check the score of the football game, so no, he was not so affected. My sponsor, though, saw me weeping and was very quiet but supportive.
 
I have always wondered, as I saw some discussion above, if that was “the day” that I was saved, but I am not sure because I still did not really understand the gospel. I became Catholic and spent several years in the church, but after those years was feeling like I was missing something, or not understanding something. I tried really hard to be a good Catholic, but I felt like I would never learn all the things that you needed to know, and I wished that I had been raised Catholic. My neighbor went to a non-denominational church, and I wanted to go to a Bible study, so she gave me the women’s ministry booklet that described the studies offered for the Fall of 1998. I chose a study called Let’s Be Wives Who Please God. Our teacher began, however, not with the “wife stuff”, but with a presentation of the gospel, and had us read portions of the Bible, including Romans, that described salvation. She spent the first 3 or 4 weeks on this. She gave us an assignment: reading the Scriptures, prayerfully creating a “sin list” of all of the sins we could recall, and then, taking each one of those sins and confessing them, and then crossing them off and writing “Paid” over them. I spent an afternoon up in my bedroom doing this, asking God to help me remember sins from way back. I had quite a list of several pages, and as I read each one out loud, there were some that I looked around to make sure I was alone because they were very shameful ones. As I finished, I imagined myself at the foot of the Cross, and Jesus having to die for these shameful sins of mine, and I wondered what He would say to me? In my heart and mind, I heard, “Now do you see how much I love you?” Now I wonder, was this the day I was saved?
 
I feel so much that I am a very, very slow learner. People say to me that I have such a gentle, quiet spirit and they feel peaceful around me. That is such a far cry from how I remember my college-age self. I still struggle with being selfish and self-centered. I am still tempted to tell a lie to get myself out of trouble….for example, if my husband has asked me to mail some bills, and I forgot, I would say oh yes, I mailed them to avoid his irritation or anger, and then mail them as soon as I could. I still struggle with wanting to be in control of my life and to do what I want to do. I find it is the “internal” sins that are hard to get rid of….the attitudes, inner resentment, unforgiveness, self-centeredness and selfishness. I have to live daily in agreement with God that I sin and fail and need His grace.

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10. Give another example of God helping you to be delivered from the power of sin. Think in terms of idols.
 
I know I have approval and comfort idols. I never thought I had much of a problem with control. However, I realize that when I expect other people – family, friends, even strangers, to be, or to behave, the way I want them to, it is wanting to control. I remember our studying here about Noah, and how when he got drunk and laid naked in his tent, one of his sons went and blabbed to the others about it (I imagine he was ridiculing his father), but the other two sons covered their father’s nakedness. Love covers, it does not expose to ridicule, shame, or point out the weaknesses and faults of others. I was getting into a bad habit of doing this with one person in my family, talking about another person in our family. I realized it was affecting my love for the person we were pointing out all their faults. I was seeing them differently, it was affecting how I treated them. I was not loving unconditionally. I know this grieves the Holy Spirit and He does not want me to do this. God wants me to love this person….not swing the other way and make an idol out of them, but just love them and realize that they are doing the best they can, and pray for them. Let Him be in control, and me, stop gossiping.

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Laura–PRAYING FOR YOUR TEA TODAY!!! 

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    So discerning, Susan!

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Oh Lizzy — thanks for the reminder.
Father, I pray some relationships will form at Laura’s tea, and they will be drawn to You through Laura. Give Laura Your anointing!

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11. I had an opportunity to share a “snippet” at work yesterday. I make phone calls, calling patients who have been discharged from our hospital and inquiring as to how they are feeling, do they have their medications, do they understand their homegoing instructions and follow-up care, etc… I spoke with a woman who told me she was scared, but doing okay. I asked her to explain. She has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and she had a bad attack which caused her to have trouble breathing, which was what brought her into the hospital. Now, she said she is scared because though she’s feeling fine right now, she’s scared that it will happen again and she’s by herself during the day while her husband is at work. I asked her what she does to help relieve her feeling scared – does she have someone she can talk to, the support of friends, neighbors? She said, “I talk to my dogs.”
I felt like I was on the edge of that diving board….I took a deep breath….I told her that when I was pregnant, I had a scary thing happen with my heart that I had to call 911 and go to the ER. When I came home, I was scared to be alone when my husband was at work and my other two kids at school, because I worried it would happen again without warning. I told her that one morning I tried to call my mom, my sister, a friend, and either lines were busy or they didn’t answer. I then said that I started to read my Bible and realized that God never has a busy line or He’s not at home, but HE is always available! And, He understood just how I felt, because he went through the same things. She then opened up a bit more and told me that she does ask God to help her get through it, that she doesn’t pray written prayers but just talks to Him. I encouraged her and said that’s just what He wants – you just talk to Him and tell him how you’re feeling. I mentioned the Psalms, as many are written when the writer felt scared and desperate.

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    Woo hoo! You seized a perfect opportunity and were so anointed.

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Laura….Lizzy reminded that your tea is TODAY! Saying a prayer in agreement with Dee’s….Yes, Lord, may Your Spirit be present and gently guiding at Laura’s tea!

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    Amen!  

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10. Give another example of God helping you to be delivered from the power of sin. Think in terms of idols.
This is certainly an on-going process (as I think I’ll always be “being delivered” until the day I’m finally DELIVERED!) and I think I might change my example depending on the person I’m speaking with (like I’ll adjust it to what that person might relate to better….cause I have plenty of material to share in this matter, unfortunately!)  But here is one example:  Even though I came to know the Lord at a young age, and knew His love for me (always in my mind, and sometimes felt it in my heart) I often had some underlying anger and resentment toward Him for much of my young to middle adult life.  Similar to what Lizzy mentioned last week, though I knew I was saved by grace, through faith in Christ, I still took some pride in following the rules.  (There is nothing wrong with being a rule follower, except when it becomes more about the rules and less about Him!)  I think for me, sticking to the rules of the “Christian life” (perhaps even adding a few!) was prideful because I then saw it as God owing me.  “I follow all the rules, now You owe me a happy life!” (like He owes me anything!)  Anyway, this mindset also tends to make you judge others more harshly.  So, I felt like I was always having to walk this tight rope, read my Bible daily, pray, be a good girl (no smoking, drinking,drugs,  promiscuity, be a witness at work, serve at church, tithe, etc…)  These are all good things but again, the behavior was too much the focus, rather than the Lord.  After being diagnosed with cancer for the second time (this is now the 3rd) I came to the end of myself.  I was angry with God and the whole world, nearly all of the time.  I even questioned if He truly was GOOD,  and the only way I could come back to believing He is good, was by looking out my window and just knowing that an evil being could not possibly be the author of such beauty.  I still had an awe for His creation, which resonated with His Spirit in me.  I went to see a Christian counselor (finally, at the urging of a friend) and I remember a couple of conversations which God used to change my “works mentality.”  I said, “All I do any more is go to work, come home exhausted, lay on the couch and watch junk TV.” (stupid stuff.)  “I know I SHOULD be reading the Bible more, I know I SHOULD be praying much more.  I feel like He is disappointed with me all the time.”  To which my counselor replied, “Mary, if all you did was lay on the couch and watch junk TV for the rest of your life, His love for you would never change.”  (She probably had no clue God would use that one sentence to change my life, but it did!)  That was the beginning of my new REST mentality. :D  Ha!  I was able to get off the tight rope and rest in His finished work.  Somehow getting to finally know that He loves me so much, so unconditionally made me less hard on myself and less hard on others.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a “go on sinning that grace may abound” mentality. But is is a type of freedom from the law.  Galatians 3:10 says, 
“For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”  (NIV)   I don’t have to follow the law to gain His love and approval, I already have it!  He did not save me to lock me in a prison cell, He saved me to set me free…to bring me out into a broad place of freedom where I can feel the sun on my face and know His pleasure and delight in me, not because of any good works which I have done, but because He views me through the blood of Christ.  I still struggle here at times.  I shared a couple of weeks ago that I was trying to pray and my mind kept getting distracted repeatedly and I got so frustrated with myself I said, “Oh Father, I’m going to be so ashamed when I am finally standing in Your presence…” and I didn’t even finish that thought and He interrupted with, “No you won’t be, you’ll be clothed all in white from head to toe!” (a bride, made ready for her Groom!)  So this is a constant process, but I have a better understanding of His love for me now, much more than 10 years ago, and knowing His unconditional love makes me want to drop all of my worthless idols and come running to Him.
(I need to work on getting this more concise!  It is hard for me to explain all of this, for some reason.  I know He has done this work in me, but I’m not very good at articulating it!)

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    oh dear Mary (e!)–I just LOVE this–I keep re-reading–it is so powerful, and I don’t think you need to get more concise at all! And the way you describe the ongoing process…oh that just points to His grace! It reminds me of how I felt reading the book “Extravagant Grace” (I need to re-read it!) But I so tend towards what you describe..and thinking I still need to “tidy up” myself more, or how ashamed I will be before Him…but  “He interrupted with, “No you won’t be, you’ll be clothed all in white from head to toe!” This is beautiful!

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      Wow Lizzy, I think I need to read that (Extravagant Grace) sounds like would be wonderful!  

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    Mary — I am e-mailing this verbatim to a young woman I had to my house for lunch who so needs to be set free!

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      Oh I pray the Lord can use this to help bring His freedom, Dee!  Praying now!

        Thank you!

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    Oh, Mary, you are so good at articulating! Wow, you said so much that I relate to. Yes, the ” resentment and underlying anger” was also something I had to let go of, ask forgiveness for. The works mentality is one that I also shared and found that judging others was the next sin.
    Resting in his love and presence and knowing He has all things under control is now so obvious in your testimony. thanks for every word you share.

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My take-away~ As I’ve read the testimonies this week I just keep feeling overwhelmed by His un-extinguishable pursuit of His children. Each of the stories here, represent His power–so profound, and so personal in each life. And it has filled me with hope! I am so often impatient, wanting especially one in my life to finally be softened, mold-able, surrendered to Him…but He is not finished, and when I look at many of you–Dawn, Rebecca–I am so encouraged by how He works, and to never give up. Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” NO! :)
Last night, I was praying, confessing my own sin in a relationship, my words, the way I’d handled things–my usual end of patience frustration…again…and then I was just overwhelmed, with grief. I sobbed. Not over her lost-ness, not even for my pain, but for my SIN. I can’t remember, sadly, when I had last cried so hard about my own sinfulness. And then I sat there, actually on my knees, and waited, and let myself sense His grace over me, the power of His love over me and in me. And I thanked Him for letting me see again what He has rescued me from. I deserve death for my sin, but He has freed me from the penalty. AND He has freed me of sin’s power. He strengthens me anew each day to walk in His grace, to offer forgiveness, mercy. He brings me hope. 

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    Oh dear Lizzy!

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