Beautiful Life





Hey child up and go; A big world is out there waiting for us to live in every day. Outside you will find, there is love all around you; Takes you, makes you wanna' say; That it's a beautiful life and it's a beautiful world and it's a beautiful time to be here, to be here, to be here. -Fisher

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Testimonies

Six months ago, Paul and I made the decision to "make" Parker and Noah take the confirmation class at our church.  We had originally thought it was an unnecessary step for them.  After all, we know where they stand, as we have taken a major part in raising them in God's Word rather than leaving that up to others.  And, based on my experience with the church I grew up in, I didn't think it was that big of a deal.  I remember nothing of importance from my experience with that class. 

But.....

Well, we had heard really good things about the confirmation class at our home church now.  And, it is tradition.  I like tradition. 

But.....

Was it really all that important?  They didn't want to do it.  It would be a pain too.  We live 30-45 minutes from our church depending on traffic.  Confirmation class was 3 hours after church.  It would mean staying in the area after church to drop them off for the class, then driving home and then coming back for them 3 hours later.  What. A. Pain. 

But.....

In the end, we decided it would be good for them.  And, it was just for a few months, so we figured we would all survive it. 

They went kicking and screaming to the first class, and came out alive and surprisingly......happy.  One class had changed their whole perspective on confirmation.....or taking the class anyway.

Which only made me wonder if it was any good at all.  I mean, they were supposed to be learning something about the church, right?  How much fun could that be?  It wasn't fun when I did it.  I don't think.  Then again, I don't remember.  Which is sad, I guess. 

But, I quickly remembered that they also loved the three years of Biblical Worldview classes I'd put them in and I know they walked away from those classes with good stuff.  So, maybe it wasn't a waste.  Maybe they would get something out of this. 

Week after week, we arranged our Sundays around their class and they did their part.  Homework.  Bible reading and some questions.  They went to class and I assume, they participated in the table discussions that were supposedly going on.  They went on the weekend retreat too.  This was a first for us.  Our boys had never been on a church retreat...... or, for that matter, away from us for that long without it being with family. 

They were fine.  Mom Dad had to be distracted all weekend!  It was tough and I don't mind saying that I'm not looking forward to them leaving one day.  But, they came back acting as if they had been on the best trip ever.  It had music and worship and play and worship and food and worship.  What more could they ask for, right?

Anyway, as the big day approached, the boys began to whine about having to write and then read {in front of the church!} their testimonies.  They knew this was part of the class.  And they knew that they could not be confirmed unless they did it.  Frankly, I'm not sure they cared.  They began to act like it was fine with them if they weren't confirmed this year.  Or ever!  Just don't make them talk in front of everyone. 

Since I have the same phobias about talking in front of a group of people {or one stranger for that matter}, I understood what was happening.  But really, what was the point of going to class all those weeks?  Having to do this was a main reason we signed them up to begin with. 

Why?

Well because neither Paul nor I were raised in churches that made giving your testimony a priority.  And therefore, we have trouble with it to this day.  As a  matter of fact, we don't do it often enough.  While I may teach my children all about God and the Bible and go to great lengths to insure they have a Biblical Worldview to apply to every situation, haven't I failed if they don't understand that our purpose is it to tell people what God has done in our lives so we can share our faith and pass hope to others? 

So we made them do it.  Sometimes parenting means tough love.

They spent one week writing their testimonies.  And, I have to say, it was not easy.  Why?  Well, we quickly realized that 14 year olds don't really have all that much to say about what God has done in their lives.  At least, my 14 year olds don't.  They do get that that is what their testimonies are supposed to be about.  But, since they have grown up in a happy home, with Christian parents, and they haven't lived through any real struggles {that they know of} or had any health problems....they don't have those kind of testimonies yet.  

But, they have heard those kinds so testimonies and so they kept thinking they were supposed to come up with something like that.  I finally realized that that was the problem.  They thought they needed a story of miracles and adversity to have a testimony.  And, those testimonies are great.  But, we don't all have one of those!  Especially when we are young. I know that if I had had to write a testimony at 14, it would not have been filled with Glory stories.  I went to church because my parents brought me and always had.  I prayed because others in my life modeled that and I read the Bible because my Sunday school teachers said I should. And......ummm, yeah.  That's would have been it.  I have no idea what else I could have said at 14.  Other than the fact that I knew It felt right to have God in my life and that I was at peace when I could pray about things.  But, that's it.  Nothing spectacular. 

And the boys were having the same problem coming up with something to say about what God had done in their lives.  I didn't want to put words in their mouths either so I had to try to ask questions {that weren't too loaded} and get them thinking about things.  One of them finally said that Dave {the leader} had said that he would be thrilled if the only thing his daughter had to say on Testimony night was "I am a Christian and I've always been one!" 

So we started there. 

Somehow, they managed to come up with testimonies that a mom and dad can be proud of!  Words from their heart that DO show how God has worked in their young lives.  They were short, but sweet.  No, they weren't stories that will knock your socks off.  We did here several that night from other children that have had things like drug addiction and family abandonment to overcome.  But, our boys had simple stories of how God has always been a part of their lives.....and maybe that is one of the reasons they don't have edge-of-your-seat conversion stories.  

 And, I have to hand it to them.....they didn't choke under pressure.  They aren't comfortable up there in the spot light, but they survived!   They more than survived.  They showed that their lives are a testimony to God's grace and love.  And that they are a work in progress.....just like the rest of us!


video

Hello, my name is Parker Gour. My testimony is a testimony of thanksgiving.



I have grown up in a Christian home and I’m thankful that my parents chose, even before I was born, to raise me this way. When I was five, my parents decided to homeschool me.


I am very thankful that part of my education has included a morning devotional, memory verses, creation education and an amazing Biblical Worldview class outside our home where I connected with many other teen believers.


All these things have worked to strengthen my faith in Christ and my understanding of His word. I am also thankful that my parents found their way to St. Andrews, where I have been influenced by many amazing people. Too many to list!


I am thankful that I have been able to be a part of not one, but two great youth groups. One here and one at another church.


Basically, I have spent 14 years learning about God and His word through my parents and all the Christians they have made sure to surround me with, so as far as my testimony goes, I guess you could say that I’ve always been a Christian.


But that is not the end of my testimony. In confirmation class, I learned from our study of Luke that Jesus always wants to have a good relationship with his followers. I am thankful that He knows me perfectly, but my testimony is that I want to know Him no matter how hard it gets. I need to remember that it cannot be as rough as being nailed to a cross for something someone else did.


Sadly, standing up here tonight is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do for my faith. As I studied and worked to get to testimony night, I have come to realize why it’s not enough to say I believe or even to live a well behaved life. I have to live a life for Christ.



video

Hello, my name is Noah Gour.



I don’t have a conversion testimony. I don’t have a “Road to Damascus” testimony. My life doesn’t look like a “darkness into the light” testimony.


But, we all live in darkness until we accept that we are sinners, and that we need to see God as El Elyon [God most High], and believe that He sent His only son down to die on the cross for us.


I am a sinner but I have been saved by God’s Grace and realize that he gave His son to die on the cross for my sake and that He is now my Adonai [Lord and Master].


In the past few years of my life, I have come to know God more and have spent an entire year learning his names.


I have learned that when I am about to do something wrong, I can always know that He, El Roi, [the God who Sees], is watching what I’m doing. And when I’m going through tough times, I know that he is always with me and guiding me as [Jehovah-sabaoth], the Lord of Hosts.


I also know that if I am ever in need of something and it is in His desire for me to have it, Jehovah-jireh will provide it for me.


I have accepted God as my God and know that Jesus is His son and that he died and rose again, and I have been sanctified in Christ by Jehovah-mekoddishkem [the Lord who sanctifies you].


I am Noah Gour and though it isn’t much, that is my testimony.


What did I learn from this?

I learned a valuable lesson.  I learned that we should share our God stories more so that our children are able to see and remember how God works in our lives all the time.  So they will recognize it more easily in their own lives.  I think Linny at A Place Called Simplicity has it right with her Memorial Box Monday posts.  You should check it out.  And I think I might start doing my own MBM posts.  Or at least doing something like that with my kids.  Because we?  Yep, have loads of stories to share about how God has worked in our lives! 

2 comments:

Mike and Kathy Perry said...

That is SO true! Those of us who have surrendered our lives to Christ, all have stories of how God has worked in our lives; and it is SO important to share them with our children. You both are a wonderful example to your children!

Joanne and Bruce said...

Wonderful post. I was so impressed with the sincerity and honesty of the boy's. Testimonies. Very happy for all of you