What’s Your Story Morning Glory?

I woke from an interesting dream.
 
I was with Caleb Ingram and we were speaking to a large group of young people (20’s early 30′). It felt like a college or a special gathering. We were with a few other people who were on the team.
 
We then drove to another location to speak. It was my turn. I stood and began to speak about the power of testimony. I started by saying, “I’m the old guy I’m 72 years of age.” Interestingly we had to use our i-phones as our PA system. (I turn 69 this month)
 
I began to tell them about the sovereign move of the Holy Spirit in Pensacola… Pre-Brownsville. I talked about how hundreds of young people were swept into the Kingdom and how churches were started, small gathering places popped up… like the Upper Room, Yancies Surf Shop Inner Light Bible Study, Open Bible, Charity Chapel, and Liberty Bible College.
 
No big names… mainly the move happened as young people shared their faith by telling their story and inviting their friends to come and see.

 

The Bible Is His-Story.

 
Here are several examples:
 
A woman at a well
Note: her story created interest, wonder, and intrigue. After Jesus stayed a few days, they no longer just believed because of her story. They heard for themselves. This is the goal. People would hear Jesus for themselves and believe. The story is the spark that causes people to ponder, wonder, and desire to investigate for themselves.

John 4:28-30
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. NIV
 
John 4:39-42
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
 
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.” NIV
 
This is the goal of all stories. People hear Jesus for themselves and believe.
 
A blind man
John 9:15
Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see. NIV 

This guy was pressed by their hostile questions, so he shared his story and finally responded… ‘do you want to become his disciple… do you?.’
 

Peter, John, and Paul

Life experience is what they shared.
Peter

Acts 4:20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” NIV 

Their opponents, stated, ‘These people have been with Jesus.

John
1 John 1:1-3
That which was from the beginning, 
which 
we have heard
which 
we have seen with our eyes
which
we have looked at  
and 
our hands have touched 

-this 

we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 

The life appeared;  

we have seen it and testify to it
and  
we proclaim to you 
the eternal life, 
which 
was with the Father 
and
has appeared to us

We  
proclaim to you 
what  
we have seen 
and heard
so that 
you also
may have fellowship with us. 
And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. NIV
 
Paul.
Acts 26:28-29
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul replied, “Short time or long-I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” NIV

Note: Paul didn’t get into political posturing, or theological debates, he told his story. 
 

Tell your story it is relevant.

Telling what you have seen, heard, and experienced has amazing power in this generation.

How do you develop your personal story?
Follow these simple steps. Write as you go through the steps. Think about the language. Think about your experience, your situation, your trial, your test. What you have been through, or come through is your life-giving story.
 
Describe your life before Christ, or during your test, during your trial, or your situation. I was lonely, angry, hurt, unfeeling, guilty, rebellious, a drug user, etc. I was broke, sick, discouraged, bound, depressed, etc.
 
What circumstance or situation enabled you to consider becoming a Christian or to pray for health, security, healing, etc.?  What was your situation? Was it a crisis, an invitation to church, a relationship with another person, a response to a believing friend? Did you attended a church or pray?  Were you desperate?
 
What brought you to the point of commitment, life change, health, or situational change? Describe the process and the moment you asked Jesus to come into your life. We are discovering many people simply pray, ‘Well Lord. Here I am.” Describe the process of your circumstance shifting to bring healing, hope, or freedom.
 
Describe how you have changed since you became a believer or gained the victory. I was angry now I have peace. I was a thief now I don’t steal. I was sick now I am whole. I was bound now I am set free. I was broke now I have money in the bank.
 
Write your thoughts in a concise manner so you can remember how to share your story with another person.
 
Usually, when I teach on the topic in a group setting, I encourage the people present to share their stories with one another within 1 to 3 minutes. After the sharing time I ask, ‘How many of you were touched by what you heard?’ and ‘How many of you were encouraged by what you shared?’ In almost every instance, every person responds in the affirmative.
 
I’ve discovered that many people are interested in reading or hearing my story. I cannot ever remember a time when the story of my journey of faith was not fitting to a situation.
 
(Remember your story is updated by your experience and by your journey of faith.)
 
Added Bonus Chapter from my book Go. Sow.
 
Chapter 7 

Seed: Tell Your Story.

Your personal story is one of the most powerful assets you have.  Your story can impact the people in your sphere of influence.  Your testimony tells the story of how you came to know Jesus Christ.  Your story is a reflection of your changed life.  

Over the years people have attempted to say my relationship with Jesus is just a figment of my imagination, somehow I thought myself out of my situation and the power of positive thinking alone is what changed my life.  

However, my life-story reveals a life that declares much more.  Jesus as Savior is my reality.  I am not the same person; I have been born again.  My story of a changing life reveals this truth.

The Bible is the story of men declaring what they had seen and experienced in the Old and New Testaments.  Peter, on the day of Pentecost, declared,

“This (what you see and hear) is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.  (a demonstration of what God said would happen)” (Acts 2:16, NIV) 

The disciples had experienced a powerful infilling of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.  Peter was testifying to this fact.  His explanation was the testimony / the story of his experience.  The early disciples declared to the opposing religious leaders of the day,

“We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20, NIV)

They encountered Jesus and were living a Spirit-led life.  They heard His words and had also participated in His wonderful deeds.

His words and His works are what they proclaimed.  

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.  The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.  

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.  And our fellowship is with (not was with) the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:13, NIV)

The religious leaders of the day had noted the disciples were unlearned men but they also noted something else—these men had been with Jesus.  Something about their words and their lives revealed this reality.

When Paul was confronted by the skeptics of his day, his defense was not to begin a great theological debate.  He simply gave his testimony, he told his story.  (See Acts 22 and 26.) 

As a matter of fact, his story had such power upon King Agrippa, the King himself exclaimed,

“Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28 NIV)

The gospels and the Book of Acts are written testimonies, stories of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  They wrote about what they had seen and heard.

In John 4, John noted Jesus revealing three key 

principles:

1.  The principle of progressive revelation.

2.  The power of story. 

3.  The principle of sowing and reaping. 

In the chapter, we see the impact one woman’s story had upon an entire town.  Jesus was speaking with a woman at a well.  As He spoke with the woman she received more than she bargained for.  She was looking for water; she received a revelation.  The revelation of who Jesus really was the water that changed her life.  As the conversation developed, Jesus encouraged the woman to go and bring her husband.

“I have no husband.”, she replied.

Jesus said to her,

“You are right when you say you have no husband.  The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.  What you have just said is quite true.”

I laugh at her understatement, “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet.” 

At the end of the conversation, Jesus plainly told the woman He was the Christ.

Here’s the progression: 

  • She first saw Jesus as a nice Jewish man.  
  • Next, she defined him to be a religious person. 
  • She questioned the where of worship.

He explained worship was not defined by where a person worshiped.  True worship was defined by the Who and how a person worshiped, this is what was most important.

  • Then he revealed knowledge about her life.  She knew he had no way of knowing anything about her, so she perceived him as a prophet.  
  • Finally, as the light of revelation entered her heart she responded by boldly asking Him if He was the Christ.  His affirmative answer revealed who He really was.

She was so moved by the insightful encounter, she left her waterpot, went back to her town and told her story to the men of the city.  She said, 

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.  Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29, NIV)

Jesus had not told her everything she had ever done, but just enough to let her know, he knew her.  Her simple story had power.  All the men of the city came out to see Jesus.  

The result.  “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him.”…and then they asked Jesus to stay.  He stayed and interacted with them for two days.  Because of their encounter, many became believers.

They said to the woman “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know/believe that this man is the Savior of the world.” (John 4:3942, NIV)

Her simple “come and see a man, could He be?” story had the power to draw the people of the city toward Jesus.  Then as they were drawn to Jesus they were able to hear for themselves, and hearing Jesus for themselves, they believed.  The whole region was transformed.

Your story and my story has this kind of if-it-happened-for-you, maybe-it-can-happen-for-me kind of power.  

Your story can ignite faith in someone’s heart and draw people toward Jesus.  In the same manner, as the people hearing Jesus for themselves your story may prompt the person to listen, and to hear Him for themselves… they may then believe.

This is the main purpose of all of our stories—people would hear for themselves and by hearing, they would believe and come to saving knowledge of the mercy and truth found in Jesus.  

Many people think, “I wasn’t a Hell’s Angel.  I never did drugs or got drunk.  I didn’t hang out with people who did.  What kind of testimony can I possibly have?  I’m just a normal person.”  Well, there are a whole lot of normal people out there who need to hear Jesus can save normal people just like you.  

Your personal story has the power to change a life.

Your story is powerful. 

Don’t listen to any lie that tells you your story isn’t valuable.  You are unique and have unique circumstances.  The people we want to reach are also unique.  Our stories somehow connect to the heart and inspire people to move forward.  

The best person to help another person is a person who has been through what someone else is now going through.

I was checking out at a grocery store.  The lady checking my groceries was friendly.  I mentioned I was heading out to visit my grandkids.  She told me she was raising her grandkids.  Intuitively I knew the reason.

I asked, “Why are you taking care of your grandkids?”  She told me her daughter was in rehab and attempting to kick her drug habit. I briefly told her I understood.  I was a person who made it.  I had overdosed more than once.  Jesus had changed my life.  I told her if He could help me, He could He help her daughter. 

I asked if I could pray for her and her daughter.  More than grateful she agreed.  I prayed a short prayer and again encouraged her, “If Jesus could set me free, He could set her daughter free.”  We prayed. Hope flowed.  That is the power of testimony.  He did it once, He can do it again!

Here are a few helpful steps to help as you develop your personal story.  

Briefly explain:

What was going on in your life before you gave your heart to Jesus?  I was angry, hurting, disillusioned, sad, aimless, etc.

How did you begin to change and move forward toward faith?  What was the process?  What were you thinking, feeling?  I felt discouraged, fragmented.  I knew something was missing from my life.  I began to think about my life where I was going; what I was doing.  Someone told me about Jesus.  Then…

When did you invite Jesus to come into your life?  Be specific.

How is your life different now?

Also, our story is always changing.  Daily Jesus meets our needs, heals our bodies, forgives our sins, provides for us, protects us, and speaks to us.  As He lives with us and in us our lives change and our prayers are answered.  We are growing from faith to faith.  Our stories reflect our current reality.

When speaking to pre-Christians I often tell them I refused to acknowledge God as being a personal God who had a purpose and a plan for my life.  I tried to find some convincing evidence so I could deny His existence.  I wanted to deny His existence so I could live like I wanted to live and do what I wanted to do.  I did not want to become accountable to a God who might be out there somewhere.  The wisdom of men, more specifically, my logic, was foolishness to God.

Now I have come to know Him, I have been gathering a history of consistent evidence.  He indeed does exist.  He is very interested and active in my life.  I testify to this reality by telling people what Jesus has done for my family and me.  I tell them about the provision I have received at just the right moment, the healing I have experienced, the sins have been forgiven and the words I’ve heard Him speak.

Because He is a living reality I am learning to walk with Him on a daily basis.  My current life story declares to all who will listen, my God is much more than some mystical idea or an impersonal force somewhere out there.  My life declares His interest, His concern, His love, and His reality.  It is Good News.  Every person who knows Jesus can openly testify to this truth.  He is changing us.

What’s your story? On a blank page take a few minutes and outline your story.

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