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Chris Carpenter
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Do You Have a Boring Testimony?

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - Several years ago, former Moody Bible Institute President Joseph Stowell shared a story with me that still resonates in my conscience today.  Joe spoke of the time he attended a performance of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir where his entire perception of faith was changed. 

The concert was mixture of glorious singing interspersed with times of heartfelt testimony.  One particular soloist’s testimony grabbed his attention and would not let go.  His name was Calvin Hunt.  Calvin was married and had several children but his earlier years were anything but pleasant.  He had become addicted to crack cocaine and lived for many years strung out in darkened places littered with all types of criminal iniquity and sexual deviation.  Threatening to steal his soul, he eventually bottomed out and thought his life would never change.

It was through the faithful witness of his daughter that Calvin changed.  He gave everything he had over to Jesus Christ.  All the filth, grime, and sinfulness that had taken over his life slowly washed way.  Quite simply, he had been to the gates of Hell and didn’t like what he saw.  But through the grace of God’s love for him, Calvin was redeemed and his life will never be the same.

The point Joe was making by telling me Calvin’s story was to show that God can change anyone, regardless of who they are or where they have been.  When Calvin sings you get the distinct impression that these songs are coming from the deepest depths of his soul.  He is someone who has been forgiven much.

I had sort of forgotten about all of this until last Sunday morning.  Yawning from what I felt was another lackluster Sunday School class, I settled into my pew for the morning worship service.  But instead of preparing my heart for worship I began to casually glance around the sanctuary at my fellow parishioners.  Everybody looked so happy.  They seemed so vibrant and full of energy, pillars of strength to my fragile state of weakness.  In all honesty, I felt like I didn’t deserve to worship with such a group of amazing Christians.  After all, I had sinned more times than I could count the previous week.  Nothing major, mind you, but just a compilation of a bunch of little things that I knew didn’t please the Lord.

But as the organist played the first chord to commence the service, I filed all of my inadequacies away and began to play my part as a model Christian.  We sang exuberantly, we prayed with command, we even passed the offering plate with a burst of zeal.  I was smiling on the outside but felt quite differently within.  I couldn’t help but wonder if other people were feeling the same way. 

Then something very interesting happened.  Our pastor stood up and turned the service over to a group of people from an organization whose mission is to rehabilitate convicted criminals through the blood of Jesus Christ.  Every type of recovering criminal was represented: drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes, and thieves.  Many gave their testimonies, speaking at great length about how God had delivered them from a dismal abyss.  Others sang tearfully of the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.  They were just like Calvin Hunt – passionate people whose heart had been forgiven much.

And then there was me.  A Christian since the age of nine, a pastor’s son, educated at a Christian college, married to a Christian woman, and working for a prominent media ministry.  Yet, I wasn’t exactly brimming with the same sort of passion.  I felt as if I had been forgiven little.    

For some reason, my faith didn’t feel real when juxtaposed with these folks.  It made me realize that through their suffering these people were forever thankful for their faith, whereas, I sometimes took God for granted.  God had become a god of convenience for me.  Because I had never been to the depths of despair in my life I believed I could easily place God in a drawer, only bringing Him out when I felt I had a problem that required divine intervention.  The truth is I can’t.  I also need to be forever thankful for my faith.

Brother and sister, have you ever felt this way?  If so, meditate on this.

God can do anything.  Nothing is too difficult for our great God.  His power and love make all things possible.  This includes inspiring us to be forever thankful for our faith.  When we realize this, we can truly love others because we know God cares about them.  Because we can see God in creation, we can feel and experience His beauty all around us.*

It is written in Jeremiah 32:17, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.  There is nothing too hard for You.”

When we discover that we truly are forgiven just as much as the next person, our work becomes more meaningful and each new task has eternal significance.  Because we are fitting into a plan far greater than our own, it gives us a higher degree of understanding and sensitivity to suffering and other’s problems.  We begin to seek solutions and to give of ourselves to meet needs.*

Because God can do anything in our lives, He changes us daily to conform to His image regardless of who we are or where we have been.  Allow yourself to be broken at the foot of the Cross.  It doesn’t matter who you are.  It all begins with the realization that, yes, you are forgiven much.

* Portions contained within this article from the Transformer Study Bible.

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