My testimony

####You want some answers?
You may not believe in God, many claim not to and it is your choice. You may believe in “some sort of supreme being or influence but not God “per se” , that also is your choice. You may believe in God but “can’t stand the hypocrisy in churches today”. You may believe that there are many ways to God and ultimately all “religions” end up at the same place. You may believe that the Bible is nothing more than a set of stories that outline moral structures for life.

Well, people believe many things and have many questions about God. I don’t have the answers and I don’t claim to have them. I can’t directly answer any questions you have about life, because I didn’t write the book on it, I can point you to the One who did write the book and Who is also THE answer. One of the things I can and will do is tell you about Jesus and what He means to me and why I love Him.

####Read on
I have been blessed by being brought up in a family that knew Jesus. My family has attended church for as long as I can remember. Both my parents were saved when I was small so I suppose it was natural for me to show some sort of interest in God and have some belief in Him. I just accepted that this Jesus was the Son of God because the people around me told me so. I attended Sunday School and accepted the Bible stories I was told as the truth.

####I was just a child
Then, when I was about seven I stood in front of the church with others and got sorted with God. I accepted that Jesus had died for all my sins and asked him to be my Lord.

I was just seven and many, at the time and since, said “what sort of sins could a child of seven have done that were so bad”. People said that I was just doing it to please my parents and I didn’t know any better.

####”I just did it for Mum and Dad”
Over a period of time I told myself the same thing and almost began to believe it. After all I couldn’t have really given my heart to Jesus because people who did that were changed somehow. I didn’t feel any different. Yet I knew I had accepted Him as my Saviour I just hadn’t received that “experience” that good testimonies are made of. no blinding flash of light, no dreams, no visions, no audible voice. I just felt the same way I always had. As far as I knew I hadn’t even been that bad anyway I mean I was no criminal, I hadn’t been running from God like others I heard of. I thought I had a boring testimony, it could be summed up in a few words. “I was born into a Christian family, I became a Christian and carried on as before.”

I spent ages looking for that one experience that would liven up my testimony. Something that would cause people to see just what God could do. I kept waiting – no flash of light. I kept waiting – still no flash of light. If something did happen, like if I had a prayer answered, I would judge it and tell myself that it might have been God but it wasn’t the “experience” I was waiting for. Eventually I asked God for it. “Give me some sort of miraculous experience” I asked.
It never came.

Or did it?

####My life was “boring”
One day, (I can’t say exactly when because I don’t know if it happened at an exact point in time or over a period of time) I began to look back at my life in frustration that it was “boring”. I began to look back at various events like things at school, my first job, my first car, my first car accident. No they all went without real problem, no one was hurt, and I came through them without a problem. No troubles there then, so therefore no need for God to intervene. I looked at many events in that way I slowly I saw a pattern forming. I realised that I’d had what I considered a normal, “boring” life.

Then I realised that there were many who would consider my life a luxury. I am not boasting or being big headed, just admitting that I’m better off than I thought. I can remember people telling me I was “lucky” to have parents like mine, or even to have them at all, yet I had considered them part of the package. I remember people telling me I was “lucky” to have all the things I had yet I had taken them for granted. I realised that Jesus had been in my life from such an early age that I had take Him for granted. I had come to expect the blessings he poured upon me as part of every day life. I had been looking for this miraculous “experience” and I hadn’t realised that my life was one! I stood, aged seven, in that church and told God I was sorry and I asked Him to forgive me. I asked Jesus to come into my heart and be with me always. Well God did forgive me, because Jesus gave His own life in place of mine. Jesus did come into my heart and He never left it, because I asked Him to. Imagine, a child made a plea to the Son of Almighty God and He not only heard, He answered. He stayed and kept me throughout my life He enabled me to share in blessings that others didn’t have. All those times when I thought he had nothing to do, He had got there first and made it easier for me. He has been with me all my life and I have largely ignored Him, yet He hasn’t left, got frustrated or angry, He didn’t complain, He never stopped loving me, no matter what I did.

In the bible it talks of God as a shepherd who “prepares a table” for His sheep (Psalm 23). Well I recently read a book by a Christian man who spent much time as a shepherd in eastern Africa (“A Shepherd looks at the 23rd Psalm” by Philip Keller). He mentions how , as a shepherd, he would go before the the sheep and prepare the tableland meadow by removing all the weeds and thorns and debris that often arises in wild meadows. Then he would lead the sheep to the newly prepared tableland where they could enjoy the lush grass without even knowing about the things he had removed for them.

When I read that I saw that this is what Jesus had done for me. As my shepherd He had gone before me and prepared the meadow and then led me to it.

####So what’s special about me?
So in considering this I asked myself “Why should I get this treatment? What have I done to deserve this? What special about me then?” The answer came. Not in a flash of light, not audibly, not in a vision and not by somebody else coming to me and saying “God told me to tell you this..” The answer was already there, I knew it all along and it was part of what I had considered my “boring” testimony. There is nor has never been any difference between me and anyone else, except Jesus. There is nothing special about me, I am just normal. The reason I get this treatment from God is because I asked for it. Not directly, but I asked I asked God to forgive my sins, I asked Him to accept Jesus’ blood as payment, I asked Jesus to become my personal Saviour and I asked the Holy Spirit to be part of my life. The rest of it, all the blessings, all the times He looked after me, all the patience He had, all the guidance that I often ignored, all the Love. All that was part of the package and there’s much more besides.

####Why I Love Jesus
So you want to know why I love Jesus? It’s because He is special, it’s because he did nothing to deserve the death He endured for me, it’s because He promised to be with me and even though I took Him for granted and ignored Him, He kept His promise. It’s because no matter what I do, He’ll always love me. Because He doesn’t judge my deeds the way I judged His, He forgives them. It’s because He has enabled me to have the best, most exciting part of any testimony anybody could have, and it cost me nothing.

I love Jesus because He paid for my sins with His life, not because I asked Him to, not because He had to, but because He wanted to, because He loves me. I love Him because He kept His promise when I didn’t keep mine and because He never let go.

For too long, I felt like I had done nothing bad enough (big headed, I know) for Him to save me from – but I WAS WRONG.

Salvation isn’t about what you’ve done or been, it’s about what you haven’t done and been. There was nothing special about me, I was and am no different to anyone else and Jesus died for me in the same way and with the same love He has for you. Part of why Jesus died was so that we (you and me) could have return to the sort of relationship with Our Father (The One who gave us our very lives) that mankind was made for. Realisation that what we are, in our very nature, has kept us away from God and the love He has for us, is a big part of salvation but it’s not all of it. Salvation is a beginning that has no end.

####It really happened
Every now and then I look back over my life. Often I reflect on moments when He was right there in front of Me and at the time I knew it, but I allowed the memory to fade. Other times He was there and I didn’t know until afterwards. I know now that I have “seen” the visions, “heard” the voice, had those “miraculous experiences”, I had just dismissed them as not good enough! Thankfully the memories haven’t all disappeared.

For instance I can clearly remember my baptism when I was nine. As I went under the water the pastor’s face changed into the face of Jesus, I couldn’t tell you what he looks like but I know it was Him. Afterward I convinced myself that it must have been the distortion caused by the water over my eyes, but in my heart I know that’s not true. I know that, like the bible says, when I went under I spiritually died with Christ and then he himself pulled me out and raised me as a new creation.

####I’m still looking
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up on those experiences I was seeking, but I have changed my opinion of what constitutes miraculous. Those miraculous experiences will and have come, because God is faithful even when we are not. However, now I also appreciate that everything God does is a miracle, because they are all things that wouldn’t happen without Him. He gives me every breath I take. He opens every flower petal one by one. He causes the sun to shine, He makes the rain fall to refresh the ground.

Recently my wife gave birth to our Son. I was there and I have to say that if ever you want to see miracle then that is it. To watch over nine months as he grew from barely a seed to a full human being and to be there as he breathed his first breath was a moving experience. Somebody described birth to me as the last miracle. It’s not the last one but it is one of the most common.

So what all this means is that I still want the Lord to do something miraculous in my life, but not for my benefit but for His glory. Everything He does for me is a miracle so I know I can rejoice in Him in everything.

####I’m not perfect
Of course , knowing this is not the answer to everything, and it doesn’t mean that I get it right. But the whole point of what Jesus did for me is so that I can afford to make mistakes because He paid my price for them.

####So now what?
You probably guessed this bit was coming but the thing about Jesus is you can’t ignore him. You either believe him or you don’t. So what I am asking is does your life just meander through with little or no sense of direction? Do you feel like a pinball, bouncing from one flipper to the next? Does it feel like no matter what you do there is always something missing? Consider Jesus, he may never have heard you call his name except when you hit your thumb with a hammer but he loves you enough that he paid for every bad thing you ever did or will do, with his own life. Even if you feel like nobody else looks out for you except yourself, remember that Jesus was there when you took your first breath. Why – because he is a shepherd and that’s what they do, he clears the way for you to get to the God who loves you. the way that is currently blocked by the stuff you have done.

Would you like to know Jesus in the way He wants you to? Maybe you’ve never met Him, maybe you have but you’ve ignored Him like I did. Maybe you’re thinking that he is all I have said and more but that in itself means he would never touch you or love you. You think you’re just not good enough. Well, he loves you, so much so he brought you to this page.

You may feel like he is a million and one miles away but he is right there with his hand outstretched waiting for you to just turn and see Him there. He loves you as much as He loved the disciples, as much as loves the people who are in Bible, as much as he loves me. He has no favouritism, He died for all of us. My God is the God of Love and He has so much love to give you if you will only let Him. He asks nothing except that you acknowledge that love and what it did for you.

If you want to do something now, then you can. You can get right with God and take Him into your heart. If it helps you can say this prayer, like the prayer I made when I was seven. But you can use your own words. You don’t have to be in church, you don’t have to say it out loud, you don’t even have to have your eyes closed. (Honestly, you can check the new testament – hardly anyone gave their life to Jesus with their eyes closed!). You just have to confess that you are sorry for what you’ve done. You just have to accept that Jesus died for all that and through it God can forgive you. You have to just ask God to be the best friend you could ever have. God will hear it, He is longing to hear you say it and when He does He’ll answer it and make the promise that is part of that answer. He’ll never leave you, he’ll never back out, he’ll never let you down.

If you’re stuck for words, you can use these….

> God, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all this time when I have not known you. I’m sorry for all the things I’ve done and said and thought that have kept me from you. Please forgive me. Jesus, thank you for dying for me. I don’t know why anyone would do such a thing for me but thank you for doing it. I ask you to come into my life from now on. I’m need your help. Help me to get closer to God. Help me to know his love. I want to make a fresh start today, now and I want it to be forever. Thank you. Amen

If you prayed that prayer or one of your own then you should know that as you did the whole of heaven rejoiced for you! We are talking about serious rejoicing here, God, the angels, everybody! Hmm, maybe that’s a little hard to imagine so let’s try to put it in perspective.

Imagine a football stadium filled with over a million fans all celebrating because their team has just won the championship, they’re even happier because their team was the underdog and nobody gave them a chance but they romped home. Imagine the marching bands on the pitch, dancing in the streets outside, singing, cheering, clapping, shouting as the cup is paraded. Think about the faces of each person and think about the players and the coach.

Got that image? Well it’s not even close to amount of celebration there is in heaven when one single person turns to God like you just have.

Please let me know and let me know, so that I can pray for you.

If you still aren’t sure, that’s okay but if you have any questions you can e-mail me. I would ask that you don’t just e-mail abuse at me (it has been known and believe I’ve heard it before) but if you have a genuine question please ask.

#### So What’s Next?
If you just got sorted with God and made a fresh start. Find a local church and tell someone there what happened. If you have a couple of local churches and aren’t sure which one to go to, pray. Ask Jesus to guide you to the one He wants you to go to. His answer may be something simple like it being the closest one, or maybe a friend or neighbour attends, but He will answer. Above all, don’t be embarrassed to tell the people at the church what it is you’ve done. If they know Jesus they will rejoice with you.

If you still have questions then find someone you trust who is a Christian and ask them. Many churches have something called “seeker services” or courses like the Alpha course. These are designed to help you get the answers you want. If you get really stuck then mail me and I’ll do my best to answer.

Offered in the Love of Christ
_Ryan _