Why did you set out to write about the subject of testimony? And why did you write three books on the topic?!
I set out to write about this topic about seven years ago. I was noticing that (#1): the faith of people I met in churches was incredibly low. For instance, a church-going person might read about angels in the Bible and decide, “Yes, I believe angels existed—back then, but they don’t exist now.” Or, they might decide, “Demons are metaphors in the Bible—they don’t really exist.” This lack of faith in areas that Jesus taught about can be traced to a lack of testimony. For instance, I have personally seen a few angels in my life time and I have also gone through an exorcism. If I choose to share my personal testimony with others then suddenly people can believe that yes, the demons that Jesus dealt with in the Bible still exist now. If I choose not to share my testimony or if I am discouraged from sharing my testimony then faith suffers and many might come to believe that Jesus is casting our “metaphorical” demons, and if Jesus cast out imaginary demons, then perhaps Jesus doesn’t really heal people either. Sharing our personal testimonies—specifically about how Jesus reveals himself to us and meets us in our life—strengthens the faith of those around us.
But I was also noticing that (#2) when Christians did give a testimony in church, on T.V., or in magazines their stories were emotional and often tragic, but they were rarely about Jesus. I remember attending a women’s testimony event put on by a local church; five women were to share their personal testimonies with a large group of other women. The stories were emotionally raw: rape, divorce, cancer, child abuse—but no one mentioned Jesus. I wanted to leave early; I was simply and utterly emotionally exhausted from listening to the painful stories, but I didn’t want to be rude. In the end, I didn’t learn anything about Jesus that day; I didn’t learn how Jesus saves people, or helps people. What I did hear was that life is difficult—and sometimes it’s overwhelmingly difficult—but hang in there because circumstances can change. I think the message the group was putting out there was, “This is a safe place for the broken-hearted to come; we will listen to your pain.” Which is a good message, but it’s not what testimony is about.
Soon after that day, I spent a day in prayer. By the end of my time in prayer, I had the outline of a book in my mind. That book turned into three books. Why three books? Testimony is a huge topic running throughout the Bible. For instance, did you know that there are seven different types of testimony in the Bible but only three sources? Did you know there is a law in the Old Testament that says if you don’t come forward to testify while having knowledge about the matter at hand, you can be subject to punishment? And do you understand why Jesus said, “You sent messengers to John, and he testified to the truth. Not that I accept such human testimony…” (Jn 5:33-34). Ultimately, studying the subject of testimony really helped me to understand the Bible.
How Long Have You Been Studying The Christian Testimony?
Actually, I was studying testimony long before I ever knew I was studying testimony. It all started when I decided to try to introduce my family to Jesus. That effort began almost twenty years ago. In retrospect, testimony has been on my mind since the day I became a Christian and I decided, “I am never going to tell anyone about this event or about Jesus.” From that point on, God began the task of changing my heart and after that I began to tell my family about Jesus. I then began to purposefully study testimony in the year 2005, and that challenge lasted until 2010. I even remember praying, in those beginning years, “Father, bless me with an abundant testimony!” That has certainly happened.
Do The First and Third Books in the Series Also Contain Personal Testimonies?
Yes, all three books contain amazing testimonies from friends and family members. Studying … The Testimony contains the testimony of my uncle Glen and his near-death experience where he ended up in hell and was promptly pulled out by God only to be given a chance to “choose life.” It’s an amazing story and it inspired me to write the appendix on hell that is at the back of the book.
Do You Want Other Christians to Send You their Own Written Testimonies For Use in Other Possible Books?
Yes. Absolutely! I would really appreciate that. I am thinking about putting a book together, a book of testimonies from readers. I am particularly interested in testimonies from children or ones that include children.
What is the First Book in The Testimony Series About?
The first book is an in-depth Bible study on testimony—how testimony is used throughout the Bible. I had Christian friends who said they weren’t really learning anything and that they wanted a book with no fluff—just straightforward teaching. So, I wrote one for them. Below is the back cover info:
Testimony is the foundation of our personal faith.
Testimony is the foundation of evangelism.
…How strong is your foundation?
Testimony is the foundation of our personal faith as well as evangelism. If our foundation is weak, our attempts to evangelize or even grow in faith may prove to be unfruitful. Unfortunately, few know the theology underlying testimony; and sadly, when we “testify” we tend to speak about ourselves, God, church, and faith … habitually forgetting Jesus in the process. The Church is in a crisis. Our foundation is weak. Studying … The Testimony builds a strong foundation by revealing how testimony relates to the Bible.
Are you ready to go deeper into your Bible?
Are you ready for insight and clarity?
Yes? Then this book is for you!
Out of all the Different Testimonies given throughout the series, which is your favorite?
My favorite story is my dad’s. His journey through alcoholism, and failing as a husband and a father, and his miraculous healing … his whole journey really made me go, “Wow, no matter who we are or what we’ve done wrong God is serious about getting us out of the darkness and into the light of Jesus.”
After reading Living…the testimony I now want to write my own testimony. Will book three in the testimony series help me do this?
It definitely will. Book three, Preparing …The Testimony is not exactly a how-to book, a book designed to help individuals organize and write a story about how they first came to believe in Jesus. It’s more like a journal, a book that will help you explore your own spiritual journey and beliefs. The questions within Preparing … The Testimony are meant to help you understand, not only some of the intricacies of the Bible, but also how your own personal belief system formed; plus, it will help you identify what exactly you believe about Jesus. This can be a terrifying thought for a lot of Christians, since most of the time we know what we’re supposed to believe—but when we take the time to identify what we actually believe—well, that’s a truth encounter. And those are always scary.
My girlfriend Becky likes to say that the church has a theology about a “relationship with Jesus” but few actually have an intimate and real relationship. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could change that?
You talk about a gap existing between what Christians are supposed to know and what they actually know about jesus. That kind of scares me … I don’t know if I am ready for a “truth encounter.”
This gap that exists between what Christians are supposed to know and what they actually know works like the business concept called the “Peter Principle.” It’s really nothing to be scared of—because examining your faith will actually work to strengthen it. Please don’t think I am being rude by saying that the Peter Principal works within the Christian church structure; it’s really just an observation I’ve made over time. I’ve met so many pastors, leaders, and even pastor’s wives who (when it came right down to it) had very little faith in Jesus. They knew exactly what they were supposed to believe: Jesus is God’s Son, Jesus heals, Jesus is King, Jesus is miraculous, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us (etc.), but I noticed while speaking with them that few actually believed healers existed today, even fewer trusted that the Holy Spirit could speak. In fact, a woman, who was the wife of a pastor, once told me after I spoke at a function, that she didn’t really believe Jesus was alive. And yet, she was the one to whom women from the church were supposed to go to for direction. She felt like she was a Christian because it was her job—and she wanted to quit.
Of course, she didn’t want to be judged; she just truly wanted to grow her faith so that she could stand for Christ and mean it, but the expectation of her—and her perceived position—didn’t allow for it. On another note, I once took a “Learn Your Spiritual Gifts” workshop, and after my gift came out as “faith” the pastor asked me to explain to the rest of the class how my gift worked. After I explained how “faith” worked, I was immediately escorted from the room, and later I was told that this large community church didn’t need my gift of “faith.” (Can you imagine? A church that doesn’t need faith!) In the end, the pastor believed Jesus was alive, but he didn’t believe Jesus could talk or that the Holy Spirit would actually lead in startling ways. He had expected me to say to the class that day that faith came through reading the Bible—and only through reading the Bible. I started asking myself, “What on earth is going on? Why is there so little faith in churches?”
The Peter Principle is a business observation that identifies how people get promoted based on achievements. Eventually, the people get promoted until they are in a position of incompetence. In other words, what they know no longer is enough for the position they hold. For Christians, this same principle can also take effect. Say a young man goes to school to become a pastor; he learns everything he is supposed to know as a Christian and he gets excellent marks, but experience is lacking. Before he knows it, this young pastor is overcome with work and issues of running a church—and so his mission of seeking a relationship with Jesus takes a back seat. Eventually, that pastor will find himself preaching a gospel of supposed truths, but he will not be giving any radical examples from his own life. He will not be testifying. The congregation then grows up understanding exactly what they’re supposed to know—but the application is lacking. Faith is always about action—not just learning—that’s why Jesus made disciples and didn’t just start a school. Can you imagine if the apostles went around preaching that Jesus could heal—but they never once prayed for anyone to be healed?
The Testimony Series works to identify where you are on your journey of discovery with Jesus, while helping readers to see what faith in Jesus actually accomplishes so that we don’t unintentionally become a victim of the Peter Principal.
Isn’t a testimony just a story about how you came to believe in Jesus? you make it sound like testiimony is extremely important.
A testimony is actually many things. It’s a statement regarding truth, a written record of experience, a contract outlining promises … read book one, Studying … The Testimony for all the definitions given in the Bible. For Christians, a testimony is basically our lives intertwined with the life of Jesus. As dedicated followers of Jesus everything we do is done “in the name of Jesus.” Therefore, our whole lives should testify about him. Our very lives become evidence of his existence. How does this happen? (You may be wondering.) It happens slowly … over time.
We testify in accordance with what we know and have experienced.
…It’s time to learn and experience more!
The first book in this thought-provoking series explained how testimony relates to the Bible; this book will help you understand how testimony relates to living. Living…The Testimony will not only encourage Christians to reflect on who they believe Jesus to be (and why they choose to believe this), but it will also correct current misconstrued ideas as to what the Christian testimony is all about.
- a testimony is not about church;
- a testimony is not about God;
- a testimony is not about faith in general terms;
- this book contains numerous testimonies that will strengthen your faith in Jesus.
A strong Christian testimony is one that continually grows in the knowledge of Jesus, continually shares that knowledge boldly, while at the same time performs good works based on Jesus’ teaching of love—all while abstaining from works of darkness.
Because a biblical testimony deals not only with our belief system, but also with the way we conduct our whole lives, our Christian testimony becomes our most valuable asset. It is life itself.
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Genre – Christian Living
Rating – G
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