Testimony Tuesday at Cerulean Sanctum


On a hill far away...The Godblogosphere’s Powers That Be elected today “Testimony Tuesday,” so I thought I better fall in line lest I be numbered among the transgressors. As someone of whom it was once said, “He’s got the worst testimony I’ve ever heard,” don’t expect a whole lot. For the curious, that notorious testimony can be found here.

I think knowing another’s testimony binds us together. One day, I hope to hear the testimony of every member of my church. I’d be blessed if you posted your own testimony in the comments here.†  We preach the Gospel to others by telling our own stories of coming to Christ. Those stories build our faith.

The best testimony I think any Christian can give is to go to the grave in such a way that others say, “That one finished the race sprinting.” Over the last few years, I’ve come to believe that how we act out the faith is the best testimony we can give. May it be that every person we encounter in our daily journey can point to us and say, “Because of the way they live, we can see Jesus.”

Talk is good. Actions are better.

Live out the Gospel today in a way that radiates Jesus to everyone you meet.

Have a blessed day!

†  If you don’t know how to write a testimony, someone’s actually gone to the great length to post an outline for doing so. By their standard, I guess mine once again doesn’t measure up!

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction


I actually had my testimony heckled at an Assemblies of God church.

At issue was the fact that my testimony goes something like this:

I was a good kid who did everything his parents asked of him, and a straight-A student who was reading Irving Wallace by the time I was in fourth grade. Cub Scouts, Webelos, Boy Scouts. Never smoked, cussed, drank, did drugs, or anything classified by most people as “wrong.” I was in church every Sunday and Sunday school before the service.

Then, at age 14, I put my faith in Christ.

Some lady thought that wasn’t dramatic enough and let me know it.

Plenty of Christians out there believe there’s a scale for measuring human depravity, with -10 being the nadir of human existence and +10 being eligible for your own Elijah-inspired, one-way ride in a fiery chariot straight into the arms of God—no lines, no waiting. I think my heckler believes I started at +8 and had nowhere to go. Shame on me; I never made it to my heroin-addled, white-slave-ring-leading, patricidal, hell-raiser stage like I was supposed to.

Thank you, Jesus; thank you that I was spared a dissolute life.

You talk to any solid Evangelical about justification and you’ll usually get a decent answer that would satisfy most people asking about it. Sanctification is another issue.

The Bible says this:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
—2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV

Sanctification is a process; we “are being transformed,” not we “are transformed immediately.” The light of the Holy Spirit flicks on in that place of our formerly dead spirit and we are justified, but that soul of ours is still in need of a heap o’ work. Years of it, in fact.

I swore I wasn’t going to talk anymore about what I’m reading on the Christian blogosphere, but this topic is too important to pass up: It is a grave error and a massive conceit to attempt to usurp the role of God in another person’s sanctification process, telling God, “As far as I’m concerned, you’re not working fast enough.”

But what are we to expect when someone starts at -9? Is +7 a week after meeting Jesus possible? A month? A year? A decade? If we can’t distinguish the difference in the sun’s arc across the sky from one minute to the next, how confident are we that we see with the eyes of God that one minute difference in the arc of a person’s sanctification process? To go back to the 2 Corinthians 3 passage and its note on “degrees of glory,” there are 180 degrees in a U-turn. A long obedience in the same directionThat’s a lot of tiny steps to take. Being made to look like Jesus is not a blink-of-an-eye affair, but one of a lifetime of minute, resolute steps. As Eugene Peterson’s classic book on discipleship is titled, it’s “a long obedience in the same direction.”

There’s not a person reading this now who doesn’t know at least one Christian out there who’s taking a long time to break out of the negative numbers on the depravity scale and into those higher, positive sanctification digits. Yet what does it say about us when we screw up our faces and rail that the ex-biker who spent ten years smoking crack isn’t where he should be after meeting Jesus two years ago because he smokes cigarettes now instead of crack? Sure, he’s down to just a pack a day from five a year ago, but still. And just why is it that he takes so long locating the Book of Habakkuk?

I’m listening to the first CD I’ve purchased in two years, Derek Webb’s She Must and Shall Go Free, and the tune playing right now has these lyrics:

My life looks good I do confess
You can ask anyone
Just don’t ask my real good friends
‘Cause they will lie to you
Or worse they’ll tell you the truth
‘Cause there are things you would not believe
That travel into my mind
I swear I try and capture them
But always set ’em free
Seems bad things comfort me

Good Lord I am crooked deep down
Everyone is crooked deep down
Good Lord I am crooked deep down
Everyone is crooked deep down
Everyone is crooked deep down
—”Crooked Deep Down”

Good Lord, we are so crooked deep down. How long it takes to make the crooked as straight as the Lord Jesus! No matter how smart or holy we looked before we were saved, we were all miserable sinners. God doesn’t believe in scales of depravity. If He did, we’d all be coming from a place close to negative infinity. That’s a big hole to work out of for anyone. Much grace is needed—more than we can imagine this side of eternity.

Look, if we’re not happy with how fast someone is moving along that narrow road, then maybe that’s God telling us in our own sanctification process to draw alongside that slow person and give them the benefit of what we’ve come to learn from our own place farther on down the way. Otherwise, perhaps it’s better that we let God do on His own what needs to be done in the life of another—without our smug color commentary.

Because, in the end, He makes all things beautiful in His time, not ours.