1. When did you come to believe in Jesus? Tell your story! (as long or as short as you like) :-) I was immersed in a sea of believers when I was a child. Parents, grandparent, aunts, uncles, and family friends all knew and believed on Jesus. We were constantly at church or at a children's Bible club, where my mom, grandmother, and aunt were all teachers. My father was in seminary. Blessedly, it seems that there was no escaping the message that I needed Jesus!
Somehow, by God's grace alone, that message came together in my conscious mind the fall before I turned...four. I know, I know, but you know, I remember it. I remember understanding that I had done wrong things and that I couldn't go to heaven to be with God having done those wrong things, EXCEPT that Jesus died to pay the price for my wrong things, and that I COULD go if I believed that. Pretty basic, but that's all it takes.
I was alone, kneeling on the bottom bed of my bunk bed set. I remember understanding, and then I prayed, telling God all of this. I walked out of my room, so confident that I was now a believer that I told my daddy, "Dad! I'm a Christian now!" He doesn't remember this conversation, but he replied with a very good question, "Great! Why do you say that?" I sensed that he was reticent to believe me, so I responded by committing my first post-salvation sin. I got really mad and stomped back into my room to pray again--just to show him!
2. What difference has #1 made in your life? Oooooiiiieeee! I asked this question and I find it difficult to summarize. All the difference. There hasn't been one thing in my life that has remained unaffected by that decision 30 years ago. It is so sweet to trust in Jesus. And even when I don't want to trust and run away, even that is a reflection of and a reaction to my relationship with Jesus.
3. What is your favorite Scripture passage? Why? I love the Scriptures SO much! It's very difficult to narrow down my answer, but I guess I would say Psalm 116. In so many ways, this is my testimony: "I love the LORD for He heard my cry, he heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live." Especially continuing through verse 9. This was my song as I emerged from my clinical depression, around 2001.
4. Tell about a time God answered a specific prayer in your life. How did that affect/change you? Well...here's the biggie. Many of you know that I spent my entire educational career--through grad school--preparing to go the mission field. (This is not an exaggeration; I began pursuing missions by the time I was entering 1st/2nd grade.) The experiences I sought, the degrees I pursued, were all oriented toward going to creative access fields. Well, as soon as I finished my degree, the Lord impressed upon me to stay put, right in the city where I lived. Okay, sure. I figured this was a short-term proposition. But year after year, I kept getting, "Wait," as the response to my prayers about missions. Finally, five years in, I asked the Lord, "Please tell me, am I staying or going? I just want to know which direction to point my nose."
That evening, I picked up right where I left off reading the Scriptures the day before, Ezekiel 3. God is commissioning His new prophet, and He says (vv.4-6), "He then said to me: "Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel- not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you." The words popped off the page to me just as if they were 3-D! It was one of the most indescribable moments of my life. Then the Spirit of God said to my heart, "This is the answer to your question."
I couldn't talk about that experience without crying for almost 2 years. It was such a shock to me. In Bible College/Seminary, everyone asks themselves if they are "willing to go." That was never my question. Mine was, "Are you willing to stay?" That day in 2004, God called my bluff, and told me to stay. So here I am... :-)
5. Do you remember a time that God made a Scripture passage especially clear to you? Tell! I was in junior high the first time I ever really remember seeing God's truth for myself. I was reading in Philippians 4, and saw this (vv.4-7): A+B+C+D=PEACE
A--Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
PLUS B--Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
PLUS C--Do not be anxious about anything,
PLUS D--but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
EQUALS PEACE--And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I had never before noticed that this promise--peace!--was conditional. It was the start of a love affair with God's Word.
That's enough for now, I think. Ta-ta until tomorrow!