Posts Tagged ‘testimony’

Luke 23:50-51
Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, … and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.

There is another story besides the one about Joseph of Arimathea that comes to mind, and that from Esther, when Mordecai says to her, “….and who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” [Esther 4:14] Both stories carry the same message for me: there may be only one moment that is our unique moment. There may be only one person who we must touch. The key is to be ready.

When I accepted Christ back in 1979, there was a young man who went to acting school with me. It turned out that he was a “closet Christian” (because he didn’t want anyone to know). In the end, everyone knew and particularly because of the conversations that he endured with me, my mocking of his faith and challenging his truths. And yet, it was this same young man who suggested I read the New Testament like a play script and put the words, “if this were true…” at the beginning of the text and take everything at face value until the end… only then, making decisions about what was true or not.

And I did just that. And I did read. And I did choose to follow the way of Jesus as a result. Whether there were or will be other moments of power for this man, I will never know. He left acting school at the end of that school year and went on with his life. But for that moment, he did what was needed…. what he was, perhaps, called to do: to tell his story to a callous, self-important, prideful young woman. And his story and his patience and his prayers, changed my life.

Joseph of Arimathea was there to provide a tomb. Esther was there to turn the heart of a king. And what about me? Or you? Has that defining moment come? Is there another? Am I ready?

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John 4:9
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

A couple of weeks ago, Mike and I watched the movie, Being John Malkovich. Now, that’s a strange film, but intriguing. Today, I began wondering what it would be like to inside the head of the Samaritan woman.

I have known what it feels like to be an outcast. As a first generation Latvian, I never felt part of the American community as a child. My father didn’t speak English and my mother had a pronounced accent. We were different. I did everything I could to blend in. On the converse, I wasn’t particularly accepted into the Latvian community either. My father died when I was nine and my mother raised my brother and me as a single mom. I discovered (years later) that she wasn’t really embraced by the Latvians after my father died because she was half German. She was on her own until other women became widows and sought her out for advice. So, while she was ostracized (for both her heritage and her widowhood), so were we.

In the end, both my brother and I became over achievers in an effort to find place. But, much like the Samaritan woman, I was still desperate for relationships. Before I met the Christ, I wandered in and out one relationship after another. Thankfully I didn’t marry each of them, but there is one divorce in my history.

By the time I met Jesus, I needed what she needed: acceptance, renewal, hope, connection, promise, change, transformation.

Upon my conversion, I found no need for drugs or alcohol, that was amazing. I even quit smoking. And then, I tried the great experiment, I became celibate. (Big discovery: those guys weren’t dating me for my mind.) And so, it was just Jesus and me. What a honeymoon.

I wonder why we never learn the Samaritan woman’s name. Perhaps she is a metaphor for all women. Perhaps the details are different, but the feelings and thoughts are ours. I’m glad Jesus was direct with her, telling her specifically who He was. I needed that too. And I believed Him. Thanks be to God.

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John 4:42
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

It all begins with a story. The Samaritan woman ran back to her town and told them what had happened to her at the well with the man, clearly a prophet, who revealed truth to her. Her story drew their curiosity and eventually, they too believed in the Christ, through direct encounters with Him.

I used to think that evangelizing or “bringing others to Christ” meant I had to know the “Four Spiritual Laws” or master the script from “Evangelism Explosion.” And although these programs work for some folks, they have not worked for me.

Meeting Christ and choosing the Way of Jesus transformed my life. When I met Jesus, I was flirting with the dark side in a major way: drugs, alcohol, filthy speech habits, and casual sex. It was ultimately just another young man’s story that made me curious enough to read the New Testament. This was my direct encounter with the Lord and I could not say “no” to His invitation. I asked to become his disciple the night of December 24, 1979.

I wish I could say that I was as enthusiastic as the Samaritan woman and ran to tell all of my friends that I had made a decision to follow Jesus. Instead, I was still embarrassed, worried about what they would think or say. And yet, they heard about it anyway. I was changed and people noticed. They asked questions. They wanted to know how I, one of the depraved, could have met Jesus. Like the woman at the well or the woman who washed Jesus feet with her hair, I was renewed by His acceptance and love.

But what about today? After 30 years, is there still power in my story?

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The Word: for me, it is a key ingredient for the foundation of faith.

And so, this is probably a good time to recount why the Word has been such a key in my life. Some ask me if I believe in the “inerrant” Word and I would have to say I do… but does that mean that I claim to understand it all or is there possibility that some of what is written is based on “story.” Does that make it less true? I don’t think so.

Anyway, it is through the Word that I came to the Lord. Back in 1979, a fellow student in acting school, “tricked me” into reading the New Testament as an acting exercise. Much as we were reading play scripts at that time, he challenged me to put these words, “if this were true…” before the first word and only decide at the end of the reading what is or isn’t true. I completed that task in less than 2 weeks over that Christmas break and ultimately, despite some things that were difficult to accept or understand, I could not refute the core of the Word. I believed it was true. That was my leap of faith.

And so, my Christian walk has been based on the revelations that God gave me, a virtually unchurched young adult, the foundation of faith through His Word.

In II Peter 1:10-11, we are told that if we “do” these things (that is build on our faith), we will never fall. This is the point. This is the journey of every believer. These elements that are examining in these 50 days with Jesus are roadmarkers along the path of every Christian. Where are you on that road?

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