A few months back, the Discipleship Pastor at our church challenged a number of us to write out some thoughts from our life story, in order to help others in the congregation move forward. Taking “Next Steps” is a core value of our congregation, since it seems pretty clear from the Bible that that God expects us to keep growing spiritually as long as we walk upon this earth. In response to this challenge, I thought of my testimony, as well as how this site came to be in the first place. For those who may be interested, an version of the latter story – how this site came to be – follows. (And, for more stories from other people in our congregation, see https://firstchristian.com/stories/.)
In the past, I used to think that I didn’t have a testimony. I was raised in a Christian home, accepted Jesus as my Savior at a relatively young age, and never had to be rescued from drug dealing or death squads. So, I felt like didn’t have a “cool” story, like a lot of other followers of Jesus. Still, I felt compelled to do something with my faith. God didn’t allow me to simply take in His wisdom and blessings without also tugging on my heart to take action.
Over the years, many people had invested in my spiritual development: teaching me about life, the Bible, and growing with Jesus. My parents had modeled the Christian walk, pastors (from the churches I went to in each place where I lived) had taught me doctrine, mentors had given me life advice, and small groups had encouraged me from their different points of view.
After a while, I had accumulated a bunch of information, to the point that I could re-tell plenty of Bible stories, teach others lessons about Jesus, and even debate certain points of doctrine. From time to time, I taught various groups and classes within the church, as the need arose. A few years ago, though, I found myself in-between specific opportunities. For a while, new openings to teach others within my church family just never seemed to line up with my availability, skills, or timing. Without some way to share what I was learning, I felt a sort of “holy discontent”.
So, if only to relieve the built-up pressure in my mind – to get these ideas out of my brain – I sought an outlet. Looking online, I found a site where I could write and post articles (mostly devotional thoughts), and share what I had been taught with others. So, I started to write, drawing on some content that I written for my church in previous years (reused by permission) as some “starter content”. With a little bit of fear, I published the first articles for the rest of the world to see, and wasn’t immediately ganked by those who hate Jesus. So, I kept writing, posting about 3 articles per week.
Shortly thereafter, I was put into contact with a great Christian writer (a friend of my dad’s, see https://lifereference.wordpress.com/), whose regular postings helped show me how to write stories about God’s work, along with different ways to share lessons from the Bible.
As I continued, inspiration came from the creation around me, from my own Bible reading, from lessons that I prepared for others, and from sermons that I heard; as well as from my men’s group, and from my experiences.
Two years (and more than 300 devotional articles) later, there are still days when God seems to bring words forth from my keyboard. Articles posted weeks in advance sometimes align perfectly with current events when they are published, reaffirming that God’s message is consistent over time, and giving me hope that He is still blessing this work.
I can’t say that I’ve changed the world, and I am not setting any records for Internet traffic, but as visitors from around the world read and comment on these devotions, it is my prayer that these words make a difference for their lives. Some days, I may be the only person who benefits from these posts, but perhaps even that is enough.
I would like to be the “worker” described in the following verse:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 NIV
Today, I sometimes challenge my children that they shouldn’t just talk about doing something (positive); instead, they should take action and implement their ideas. Now, I can continue to say this, having had the experience that following God’s leading can lead to personal satisfaction and fulfillment. I must still look out for the next opportunity that He provides, but for now, as long as the words come, I hope that I will listen and capture them in a future post.