My Testimony

I’ve been asked for a copy of my testimony for a school application.  I’ve always found it difficult to write my testimony so I’ve never really completed it.  So here goes my best shot, it’s in chronological bullet form.

I have to admit.  It’s a boring testimony, and mainly tragic.  It seems to get worse as it goes.  I can not say good for myself – but it does truly, at least to me, reflect the Glory, mercy, holiness and love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Upbringing

0-6 years. I was raised in a faith professing household. My parents were actively involved in a strict conservative pentecostal church (Revival Centrers International & later Revival Fellowship).  My mum raised us with standard on a standard cultural christian ethic and my dad made a point of placing biblical teaching of faith as high priority in our house.  I was raised with a pentecostal sway on spiritual gifts and tongues.  At a very young age, I remember seeking the Lord earnestly to fill me with his Spirit, that I might be born again and speak in tongues as I had been taught to do.  I truly did seek the Lord earnestly and consistently, I desired God in my life more than anything else. At age 6 church elders confirmed that I was speaking in tongues, had received the Holy Spirit and was baptized 2 weeks after. From that point I continued with life as usual.  Seeking God daily.  Reading my bible on a regular basis, professing my faith with my friends and living a “moral” life.

9-11 years. My parents transferred me to a Christian School in grade 5 strictly for educational reasons. Against my parent’s hope, I learned much about denominational variations and differences and began to attend services with my friends and school outside my parents church.

12-16. At age 12, I attended a youth camp provided by YWAM- this was a very eye opening experience.  At the came I silently rededicated my Life to Jesus as the reality of the Gospel became more clear to me through various media ministries.  My interest in YWAM led me to visit them once or twice a week where I would spend time with older Christians on mission and learn from them as much as I could.  At YWAM I could see there was significantly less, emphasis on Spiritual gifts, and a more balanced emphasis on missional living.  I was inspired to become evangelistic in my life.  My mentors at YWAM took me on as a mentoree at a very young age, and I was given many opportunities to serve.

At age 16, God had used me as a vessel to build a discipleship and local missions team from within my school ministering to my school, local public schools and regional christian schools.
All of this came and went as a whirlwind.  In hindsight, I don’t understand why God used me to do these things. As a young person I was not firmly founded, hardly disciplined, conceited and prideful, constantly in trouble and I usually said the wrong thing.  However he allowed these things in my life and last I heard the programs God had used me to create are still being used to minister to the youth of that city.  It is humbling to think of all my many failures during that time, but also encouraging as I reflect, God is Glorified even in my lacking.  I am happy that my input in those ministries are easily forgotten and God’s vision thrives.

During this time my parents were going through a long and ugly separation.  I am happy to boast in the Lord, he kept me through that season, and held my heart from becoming bitter or apathetic.  I am still largely unsure of the details as to why my parents divorced.  My mum left the church, and my family was changing drastically.  As a result of my parents separation, my whole family split.  My mum moved to Canada to be with her boyfriend, my closest brother moved to a friends, my sister and youngest brother moved to a friend of my mum’s and I moved into a basement suite with my dad.  In those days I spent many days at YWAM, sometimes living on campus for weeks when my dad was away on long business trips. My dad’s absence both physically and mentally as he suffered through his dramatic separation subtracted from my primary source of biblical founded discipleship.

16-19. For financial reasons, I was forced to move to Sydney, the biggest city in Australia.  I lived with my Grandma while going to a public school.  I was quickly plugged into a local independent church and partnered with them in ministry at my high school.  In that church I was trained as a high school student in youth ministry. I was actively involved in many christian and secular community programs and outreaches.
At this time in my life, God was very gently and VERY graciously leading me through my teen years.  There were many “oops” moments and those days are very sobering to remember – I am thankful for God’s grace through them. My life still largely lacked foundation and accountability.  My new church was not properly structured for mentorship and my life lacked spiritual discipline and accountability.  I grew in faith and passion for Jesus Christ, but my theology was formed only around experience and personal interpretation. My ministry through music became primary in my life, I was able to share my faith with the “audience” but struggled increasingly in face-to-face evangelism.
I left  school in 11th grade.  This is normal practice in Australia, especially for males as 10th grade is the requirement at which many students will leave to join the work force and get a head start on a career if no university education is needed.  In my youth, I decided my ministry would be more effective out of school rather than in.  In hindsight this decision would present problems in the future, however, “all things to work together for those that love the Lord and are called according to his purposes”.
After joining the workforce and continuing on in voluntary ministries I was asked about youth pastoring training in my church.  At first I showed interest but after prayer and reflection declined as I could see much work needed to be done in my life, namely, spiritual discipline and biblical foundation.

I continued on in the workforce as a cabinet maker waiting for God’s direction.  He led me through spiritual growth in daily quiet times as I continued to serve voluntarily where he called me.  After incurring a back injury I moved to Canada to visit my mum, she offered me a job in her marketing company and I took it. I married my love at first sight and we lived in my mum’s basement suite.

20-22. In moving to Canada, joining my mum’s company and getting married, I went through the greatest spiritual low of my life.  I was experiencing what I would now call ‘comfortable living’.  The grace and reliance I once had in God became religious persuasions and moral ethic.  I prayed when I needed help, I read the bible when looking for a specific scripture, I went to church when it was convenient, I idolized my wife, I made plans for worldly gain, I felt secure in my career and God became a comforting coach. There were intervals when I would rekindle my faith and pursue spiritual growth again, but they were often snuffed out by selfish ambition. All the while the more I ignored God, the more guilty I felt.  The more guilty I felt, the harder it was for me to confess.  The harder it was to confess, colder my ignorance for God became.  My wife and I had moved back to Australia, and had a son on June 20th 2008.  6 weeks after my sons birth as I held my son, God graciously gave me a vision of his love for me.  I was broken.  It was the first time God’s grace, love and mercy had settled on my heart and I wept over the beauty of God’s love that I had never seen before.

For the next 6 months I spent much time seeking the truth of God in his word.  My time in devotion, mainly seemed cold.  I felt maybe God had given up on me because of the times I had given up on him. I continued to seek him realizing that there was nothing else I could do, if he is God, and I am his creation, he is worth seeking everyday for the rest of my life, even if I do not find him.  And my life would be worthless if I didn’t. In this time I lost a lot of sleep pleading with God to reveal himself to me, to change me and make a disciple of me. For about six months, God allowed me to go through a time of Godly sorrow and I am deeply thankful for it. During this time I was attending church, fellowship with saints and having biblical conversations.  Outwardly I appeared to be a normal christian.  Inwardly, God was ripping down my walls in preparation for major re-construction.

January 1st 2009. The period of Godly sorrow came to a climax while visiting my mum in Canada for a Christmas holiday.  I got into an discussion with a non-believer who argued that Jesus was homosexual. I found myself on a rampage of biblical study and apologetics, during which I felt my spirit heat up. I sensed the gospel bearing down on my life, and it warmed my soul and caused me to beg God for more. On new years eve an old friend, who had recently been saved showed up at my parents door.  He came in and gave me the gospel until the early hours of the morning.  God had finally put it on my heart to truly repent.

He revealed how I had made my wife an idol in my life.  He revealed how I had put my faith in perishable things rather than his word.  He revealed how I had made my selfish ambition the driving force of my life, rather than the Holy Spirit.  He revealed that I relied on my righteous to make me presentable before God rather than the righteousness of Christ and that was why I felt too guilty to come in repentance.  And he weighed my heart down with his glory.  My body was filled with the contrast of sober conviction vs energetic thanks giving.  As I went to bed with my wife in the early morning on the first day of the year, I soberly informed her that things were going to change, and she submissively accepted and agreed to talk about it when we woke.

The next day I shared my conviction and revelation with my wife, she soberly received all that I said and agreed to go with me on my journey.  This is the divine grace of God, she was well aware of the discomfort the changes would incur. Shortly after our conversation she was overcome by the reality of God working in our life after a supernatural encounter.  God had used a completely different means to bring her passion to life, however we were on fire together for the first time.  We began reading God’s word together for hours daily (we were on holidays).  God began laying the foundations in our lives and marriage that we had so long gone without.  Praise the Lord, his grace is plenty.  His mercy is indescribable.  His timing is completely unknowable and his will, will be done.  His love for his children can not be moved, and his heart can’t be shaken.  His patience is greater than our sin.  His love compells us to worship.  Maggie and I were overcome with the wonder and glory of God.  And so began a new life,

The rest. The gospel began to bear down heavily on my life.  Increasingly I could to see the light of Christ exposing nuances of every facet of living.  My once “moral” perception, shifted into a blood covered perception, but not in a morbid way.  For example, when I saw someone in need, I may have once been moved to help out of a sense of obligation to my religion, and an appropriate requirement to meet Christian status quo.  But after feeling the weight, the glory of the gospel bearing down, I was now compelled to help because of the example set by my hero whose blood bought my salvation.

Just as I was in need, so is this needy person I see.  Just as Jesus came to my rescue, so can I come to this person’s rescue.  Just as this person is undeserving and even too prideful to ask for help, so was I when Jesus gave of himself and revealed my need for him.  Just as Jesus was humbled on the cross, and believed in faith in his Father that Glory was his and that all would be reconciled God’s time, so I can see that I don’t need any reward here on earth, as I know the Father holds my reward and I look forward to it, and it alone will satisfy me.

The blood of Christ began to permeate every paradigm and preconception. No thing could just be a simple monetary or novelty object to be possesed but a gift graciously given if my wise Father  wills, and inten;wmfded to be stewarded, with a divine and intricate purpose. Not a binding purpose that enslaves, but a purpose in freedom, that is inspired by the grace of Christ and compels response through the moving love and power of God.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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