LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A SIMPLE TESTIMONY OUR DAUGHTER BETH SHARED.
STEVE AND I ADOPTED BETH FROM THAILAND WHEN SHE WAS TWELVE
When Beth was nineteen, her college speech teacher called me and said, “Beth told her story today and it was a speech no one will ever forget.” Beth brought a tape recorder (remember tape recorders?) with a song from Point of Grace called “Who Am I?” (Today you may be more familiar with Casting Crown’s recording.) Beth would share a sentence or two and then go over and play a little of this song. She kept doing this until the end. Here is the Point of Grace song:
Beth began: “When I was a baby my parents cut off my arm and threw me away to die. But I didn’t die. Somebody heard me crying and found me. They rushed me to the hospital.”
Then Beth went over and played a little of “Who Am I?”
Beth continued: “I grew up in the orphanage where people hurt me. But my dad-to-be in America was praying and heard me crying. He wanted to adopt me.”
Then Beth went over and played a little more of “Who Am I?”
Beth then said, “Mom and Dad took me back to America where they loved me and gave me a family.”
Then Beth went over and played a little more of “Who Am I?”
Then she sat down.
The teacher said it was the shortest and best speech she had heard in her teaching career. (In Beth’s next speech she brought pictures of her friends still in the orphanage and pleaded with her classmates to find it in their hearts to adopt! The teacher called me again — and said perhaps next time Beth could lighten up. So Beth’s final speech demonstrated how to play basketball with one arm!)
Beth has seen God come running to her again and again. Today God has settled her in her own family as a happy mother of three. Here is she and Seth with their firstborn, Katherine.
Beth’s testimony didn’t include the gospel, but it did lift up the wonder of God’s grace. Many of you did so well last week — I want to share some of your stories as a model, and then use them as a springboard for helping each of us to think of ways we might do the same. You don’t have to have a dramatic a testimony as Beth’s to create wonder, you just need to be sure your story is so His story that it causes them to ponder Who He really is.
1. How did Beth model the grace of God in her testimony?
2. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday – Wednesday: Models of Grace
GRACE IS UNDESERVED AND OVERWHELMING
In the following watch how Karla does not go deeply into her sin, her crime — but she does go deeply into God’s grace. Though she was a murderer, each of us could see glimpses of ourselves in this story. I want you to find the grace and the glimpse of yourself.
3. In the above:
A. How did Karla make tangible the grace of God? How did her testimony create wonder?
B. How could you see glimpses of yourself?
4. Remember that a testimony can be both bout being delivered from the penalty of sin, but also the power of sin. You might be prompted to give one or the other or both in various circumstances. For example, think of a sin from which He is in the process of delivering you, as He delivered Karla from the fear that tempted her to lie. She was delivered because she clearly saw God existed and she both feared and loved Him.
You don’t need to go into a lot of detail about the sin — but enough so we can see the chains — and then show the power and grace of God. I’m going to give you a choice of two sentences to fill in. Also — feel free to reword the sentence — I’m just trying to be helpful!
A bad habit, or the Bible would say sin, that I have had and which has brought me pain is________________________. Though I may always battle this to a degree, God has given me some victory by:_______________________________.
I really messed up my life by ________________________but God in His grace forgave me and is bringing healing by:___________________________________.
Here is an example for me. At my annual physical my doctor noted I had lost 20 pounds and he asked me how I did it. I said:
When my husband died I really messed up my health and life by running to the pantry for comfort. It took me a long time, but Jesus is showing me that was really a false god wrecking havoc in my life. I have a real God I can run to and He is comforting me in a way that stuffing myself never could. It is a continuous battle — but I am experiencing a power outside of myself helping me.
GRACE GLIMPSED IN OTHERS AND THEN EXPERIENCED OURSELVES
Read the following from our own Rebecca and note how she shows the power of God both in her brother, in His wooing of her, and then in her own life.
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 Shulammite 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! :)
5. In the above, how did Rebecca show God’s power in various ways? How does her story create wonder?
6. Now, take one of these two sentences and finish it.
Jesus didn’t seem particularly real to me — but when I met______________________I saw that________________________________________and it caused me to wonder if there really might be a God who ________________________________________.
I came to believe in Jesus reluctantly, because I feared giving up control of my life. Yet I was doing a very good job because I_________________________________. Today I see that though this is a process, He _____________________________________________________.
Here is my attempt:
I came to believe in Jesus reluctantly, because I feared giving up control of my life. Yet I was doing a very good job because I was ready to leave a very good man because I was so selfish. Today I see that though this is a process, He opened my eyes to my selfishness and turned my marriage into one of great beauty. I am still selfish, but God has not stopped showing me grace and helping me grow.
GRACE IN THE FACE OF TRIAL
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.
7. In the Song of Songs, the Shulammite “dances between two armies.” Invisible spiritual forces are all around us, but God can give us grace to face them, even to dance. Finish this sentence:
A trial I face was when______________________________________but God truly helped me by ____________________________________________________.
I was devastated when____________________________________but today, because God truly has been with me He brought good out of this by_______________________________________________________.
GRACE TO HEAL ME OF MY BLINDNESS
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.
8. How did God heal Dawn’s blindness — and how did she give Him glory? Cause wonder?
9. Today many people do think Christians are freaks, so I think it is good if you can remember when (if you did) you felt that way. If this is you, finish this: I remember thinking this Christian (or Christians) was ____________________because______________________________. Yet, somehow I listened and this is what happened:_________________________________________________________________________________________.
Thursday – Friday: The New Alpha Series
I think it is amazing and would love you to watch and comment and consider if there might be a place for this in your ministry to others. Some might be surprised to see that I, who am thoroughly reformed in my theology, love Alpha. But I love that Alpha has been a bridge between evangelicals and charismatics — and I know that pleases God. God has His hand on this ministry. The newest videos are wonderful, so wanted you to take a look and share your thoughts.
10. What comments do you have on the above? How does this video create wonder?
11. What is your take-a-way and why?