Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Devolution of the Testimony

In Revelation 12:11 (NIV) it says that "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." The Christian testimony has always been a wonderful tool that we Christians have to tell of the goodness of God in our lives. It cuts through doctrinal debates, religious differences, racial divides, etc. And as that Scripture tells us it can be a tool for overcoming the power of Satan that opposes us. However I have noticed a couple of disturbing trends in the area of testimonies.

The testimonies that I hear being shared these days are filled with "self" rather than God. The testimony is being used to redefine who Jesus is to each individual rather than, how who Jesus is has redefined the individual.

The result? This all fits right in to a post-modern culture as one truth among many. This mindset is what is fueling the increase of movements like the Unitarian church, where you can go in to learn about God...whoever he/she/it might be.

To one person God is like my grandmother who used to make me cookies when I was young.
To another Jesus is my homeboy.
To another God is this feeling I get when I hike in nature.
To some Christians they feel like Jesus is the one who saved 'me' from Hell.
To others, He is the one who will get me my raise, the one will help me succeed in my plans and goals, the one will help "little Jimmy" get better.

Do you see? He is being defined by people's expectations of what they feel He should do or how they feel at a given moment. The testimony has become "me" centered and therefore powerless.

Now personalizing the telling is essential...after all it is YOUR testimony. My points are these:
1. Use your testimony! (too many just not talking about God anymore)
2. Be clear on who you are talking about. (God and even Jesus can mean many things to many people today)
3. Read your Bible to understand Who it is that you are talking about! (Jesus is not a personal experience, He is a person and meeting Him and following Him changes lives)

Here is a link with six easy steps for you to construct a relevant and powerful testimony: HERE

Now go kick some demon butt with your powerful testimony!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Recession, Depression, etc.

I can't believe that I am actually seeing the government's "FDIC" insurance guarantee with financial institutions in the news. Many people probably have never noticed the sign in their banks showing that their institution is "FDIC Insured for deposits up to $100,000." I remember learning about this in high school as a response by the government to the "bank runs" during the Great Depression. With the sale of Bear Stearns to JP Morgan Chase today being brokered by the Fed Reserve as an emergency measure to try and prevent a full scale collapse of the is (or should be) a HUGE wake up call to our country!
I could definitely speculate with others as to the cause of these events...from greed where 1% of our population have over 90% of our country's wealth. The continuing injustice that occurs against the unborn... Our pride where the once "Almighty Dollar" is being shown to be less than omnipotent, war, corruption, etc. Any number of symptoms, but what is the cause? I don't think we can point to simply one of these things, but rather to one single truth. We have turned our back on God. I know I sound like some wild-eyed prophet on the street corner proclaiming doom, but in regards to this mess I do believe the answer to be more than simply the mortgage mess. I believe that the answer is sin. So where does the hope for our country lie? Where is the starting point to fix this mess? Is it for the Fed to drop the rates again? Pump more money into the market? Have policy makers shuffle some numbers and laws around?
As with all things in rebuilding, whether it's our lives or our marriages, or our city, state, or nation...the starting point is God. It's always God. This nation, though many try to debate this fact, was founded upon the God of the Bible. Though this nation was not meant to be a religiously controlled state, (or have a state-sponsored church) it most certainly was meant to reflect the values of the Bible as well as honor the same God of the Bible. In that Bible it states that (Ps. 33.12) "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." We have known the richness of God's blessings and favor in our brief existence to become the greatest and most powerful nation that has ever existed.
With 80% of our churches plateaued or in decline, it speaks to me of a serious problem. I remember right after 9/11 many churches saw a huge spike in attendance. People wanted to know where was God in all this. But the interest soon faded. How will we find healing for our staggering nation? How can we find peace in our lives? How can we have truly fulfilling marriages and relationships? The answer is the same... repent.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV) if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.