Archive for the ‘Testifying’ Category
The Pentecostals At The Church Of Christ Funeral
The funeral chapel was jammed with about 30 Pentecostals and nearly 100 Church of Christ members. Evidently this funeral was considered important. Six Church of Christ pastors were in attendance and each one spoke. No Pentecostal preacher had been invited to speak; yet several of us came anyway. I sat close to the back with my brother-in-law Pastor Nathan Yandris and my sister Ramona.
The large framed picture sitting on the closed casket was one of a beautiful middle-aged woman named Phyllis. She had a look of professionalism and class about her. Her brown hair was cut shoulder length. It appeared her make up had been professionally applied for the photo, and her jewelry looked very expensive.
The front row contained a grieving husband and beside him, his redheaded son and daughter-in-law. The son appeared to be the only child. No others sat near, leaving the guests to assume the mourners were alone in this crowd.
The Church of Christ preachers spoke one by one, and each said comforting things that I am sure helped. The final speaker did a superb job, actually. One could tell this was not his first funeral.
At the conclusion of his homily, the minister announced, “It is the wishes of the family that those who wish to say a few words about our beloved sister, should have an opportunity to say a public goodbye. He then walked to the front row and sat down.
One at a time, six middle-aged women walked to the podium and spoke sweet words about the loss of their friend. All of them mentioned that they had met Phyllis at either AA or Al-Anon.
They spoke of her friendship, of her church activities, her help with their lives, and her struggle with addictions and theirs.
After the last one sat down, there was a moment of quietness as all waited for someone else to stand. No one did.
Turning around and giving the crowd a swift appraising look, the redheaded son clutched a new Bible as he stepped to the small podium. His 25 years seemed much older. He was poised. He held the Bible in his left hand up close to his heart.
With a voice that never broke, he thanked everyone for coming. He thanked the ministers that spoke and he thanked his mother’s pastor as well.
With a smile to the women that had come to the front to speak, he thanked them as cherished friends.
That is where his story began!
“Almost 6 weeks ago, I first heard that my mom had cancer. The doctor said that it was terminal and inoperable. I was shattered. Then they said she only had a few days to live. I was an immediate basket case.
“My mom was young, she was beautiful too,” He said, pointing at her picture.
“I went home that night and sat on my front porch. I was drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette, and was crying my heart out, when this man saw me and stopped.” (He pointed at a large black man on the 2nd row.) “He asked me if I was alright? I told him no.
“When he came up to the porch I told him the news about my mom. He spoke comforting words to me and asked if he could pray for me. I said yes and he did. I felt something I had never felt before.
“Then he sat down beside me and taught me what he called a short Home Bible Study. He showed me about Acts 2:38. He said that I needed to repent, and get baptized in Jesus name and that the Lord would give me the Holy Ghost. He said that Jesus would be my comforter.
“I prayed right there on my porch and asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins. I told him I wanted to be baptized the Bible way, so he took me to his church, Apostolic Tabernacle, and the pastor came over and baptized me in Jesus name. When I came up out of the water, I was speaking in tongues. I got the Holy Ghost just like they did in the Bible!” He said, as he raised and then waved his Bible.
The Pentecostals responded with much noise and many of us stood and clapped our hands. The Church of Christ crowd went silent.
“I was thrilled! I had never been so happy in my life! That night I prayed that God would help me to share this with my mom. I knew she had to have this before she died.
“I prayed that God would help me find a way to speak to her. I knew she was wrapped up in her Church. She had been a lifetime member, and had always been involved in one department or another.
“The first thing the next morning, I prayed before I went over to mom’s house. When I got there, I was surprised to see a Bible lying open on the kitchen table.”
“I asked mom what the Bible was there for, and she said that she was close to dying and didn’t feel saved. She said she was looking for more than what she had.
“I said mom, you been a member of the Church of Christ for 45 years.”
She said, “That’s right, but I’m not ready to meet God. I need more!”
(He turned to the Church of Christ pastor and said, “Sorry sir!”)
The redheaded new convert was filled with Holy Ghost enthusiasm as he told his story. His eyes were red rimmed and watering.
I said, “Mom, let me tell you what had happened to me last night. I told her the whole story. About the beer, the Bible study, the baptism and the Holy Ghost.
“Mom started crying and said son, ‘Tell me what he told you.’
I sat down with her and showed her the same scriptures in Acts that my new friend had told me.
“She got down and began to repent like the Bible said to. When she finished, she said that she couldn’t leave the house to go to church. She was too weak and was attached to an oxygen tank.
“Mom said, maybe we could fill her big Jacuzzi tub up and baptize her in that. Dad helped me and I baptized my mom in Jesus name. She came up out of the water speaking in tongues just like I did. I was so happy, I shouted all over the room.”
(All of us Pentecostals are now on our feet, with our hands in the air, worshipping!)
“My dad said, ‘Baptize me too!’ So I did and he got the Holy Ghost too”
“I sure did,” came a strong voiced reply from the front row. The dad had his hand in the air.
The Pentecostal’s worship was so overwhelming that even some of the church of Christ people started crying by now.
They all knew that a man with an experience is never at the mercies of a man with an argument.
The worship of the small group of saints roared in the ears of opposition. For several minutes it went on. It felt unstoppable.
“All of you Church of Christ members need this Holy Ghost, he went on. “It will do for you what AA can’t. It will do for you what Al-Anon can’t. You need to be baptized in Jesus name to be saved. You need the Holy Ghost speaking with other tongues to be saved. If you want to see my mom in heaven, then obey Acts 2:38.
When he walked back to his place, the crowd stood and gave him a standing ovation.
Testimonies Aren’t Cheap!
Testimonies are not for sale in the Dollar Store. No one has ever found them at a Yard Sale or on Craigslist either. Testimonies aren’t cheap or even discounted. They have never been free either.
Pentecostals over the years have enjoyed listening to the testimonies of the overcoming and beloved saints of old.
As a young person hearing their words of testimony, I took it at face value. Because of my limited and lack of understanding about life, I only heard their words and saw their body language. I was clueless of the depth behind their words. It is amazing how time and problems educate us all.
When Sister Maria stood, everyone knew they would hear something wonderful. Within the first 60 seconds or so of her testimony, many hands in the church would be lifted in the air as she glorified the Lord.
No one knew that at home, she went through the worst of treatment from her husband. She survived under horrible domestic adversities. She never complained or got bitter. She was always in the prayer room before church. Her smile and sweet spirit made her beloved among all the saints.
Her Testimony Wasn’t Cheap.
Bro. Terry was an old man. His major health problems were ongoing. He couldn’t work a regular job. Nor did he ever marry. His life was very lonely. He never missed a service and he was always on time. Bro. Terry was beloved by all in the church.
For his testimony, Bro. Terry usually sang a chorus. Every time Bro. Terry testified by singing a song, the audience responded with deep worship and praise. Most of the time, someone ran the aisles before Bro. Terry was done.
His Testimony Wasn’t Cheap.
Sis. Regina had four teenage children. Her husband had mistreated them for years before finally abandoning them. Through it all she was the biggest help in the church. She witnessed, brought visitors. She prayed people through to the Holy Ghost. She testified and all could hear and feel her sincere love of God.
Her Testimony Wasn’t Cheap.
Bro. Murrell Cornwell told of a young man who wanted a soul-winning gift of ministry like his. Bro. Cornwell has taught tens of thousands of Home Bible Studies and is an amazing soul winner. He also pastors a Mega Church that he started and built with Home Bible Studies.
The young man asked Bro. Cornwell to lay hands on him and pray that God would give him the same ministry of soul winning.
Bro. Cornwell laid his hands on the young man and said, “God let this young man go bankrupt twice, let him lose everything he owns, let him get sick and nearly die, let his friends forsake him, let his…
“Wait a minute. No! No! Don’t pray that! I just wanted your gift of ministry!” The young man exclaimed.
“That’s how I got it,” said Bro. Cornwell. “Do you want what I have or not?”
His Ministry Wasn’t Cheap.
The Apostle Paul’s ministry didn’t come cheap either.
2Cor. 11:25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
2Cor. 11:26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
2Cor. 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
2Cor. 11:28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
2Cor. 11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
2Cor. 11:30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
His Testimony Wasn’t Cheap.
Job’s Testimony wasn’t cheap either.
Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
He lost everything and still didn’t charge God foolishly. He maintained his manner of life. He kept on trusting and serving the Lord.
His Testimony Wasn’t Cheap.
The next time you hear a precious saint of God testify, and it has that ‘New Jerusalem” ring to it, then know assuredly, that their testimony wasn’t cheap.
Everyone wants a glorious testimony. Not many are willing to pay the price.
Do You Have A Testimony?
Testimonies Aren’t Cheap!
“That Scripture don’t work for me!”
Those of us who knew ‘Tucker’, never heard what his first name was. We just called him by his last name, Tucker. The group of us that were ‘40’ something, never failed to enjoy his oddball humor. Tucker was maybe 55 or 60 and a local folk hero of sorts.
He was just an old bachelor that didn’t seem to be blessed with many social graces. No one ever saw him chatting with the ladies, or even the men very much, for that matter. Tucker was a loner. We usually only got to see him when we visited a friend’s church anniversary service.
His clothing probably never received many compliments. His thick-framed glasses always sat askance on his nose. The lopsided glasses attracted our attention. We were fascinated. How could anyone be comfortable with their glasses sitting whomperjawed on their face? It never bothered Tucker.
To complicate the matter, he held his mouth kind of funny when he talked. It looked like he was talking out of the side of his mouth. He never talked fast. He drug out his words in a near monotone voice. Whenever he testified in church, we gave him our full attention.
Tucker always sat on the front row. When he stood to testify, he stood with an open Bible, just in case he needed to read a Scripture.
His testimonies were often memorable. One of my favorites was, “I thank the Lord that I’ve been save five-fourths of my life.”
One night, Tucker stood and waited his turn. When he was called on, he took his time and read a verse from his big Bible.
‘Is. 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.’
He stressed the ‘run and not be weary’ part with his voice. With all eyes on him, Tucker laid the Bible down and took off running. Well, kind of lumbering really. He ran laps around the church. He ran long enough that the organ started to play a chorus. The people sang.
After what seemed like 12 laps or so, Tucker crumbled on the floor in front of the pulpit completely out of breath. His chest was heaving, his face was red and he didn’t move for several minutes. When Tucker finally struggled to his feet, the organ and the singing stopped.
Tucker continued with his testimony. He looked at the congregation, shrugged his shoulders, he then turned toward the preacher, and while holding his arms out in a sign of failure, said: “That Scripture don’t work for me!”
Written by Martyn Ballestero
November 20, 2010 at 11:19 am
Posted in Testifying
That Was A Lousy Performance
1. The act of performing or the state of being performed.
2. The act or style of performing a work or role before an audience.
3. The way in which someone or something functions.
4. A presentation, especially a theatrical one, before an audience.
5. Something performed; an accomplishment.
Our carnal minds are impressed with performance, be it speed, strength or skill. We use words like ‘Awesome’ to describe a ‘performance’ we enjoyed.
All of us love a song and a singer that pleases our ears. The skillful playing of an instrument fascinates us. It is easy for us to go away feeling awed because of the performance of the musician, singer or speaker.
It’s not that it’s so wrong. It’s actually very normal. Even the Psalmist said in Psalms. 33:3 Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.
From this scripture, it even looks like heaven enjoys a good performance.
Yet it’s possible that we bring that mindset over into the area of preaching, testifying and special singing.
Nothing deflates our ego any quicker than to feel like we weren’t at our best, or that the crowd response was less than we’d hoped for.
Most every preacher knows what’s it’s like to want to just leave the building as soon as he finished a sermon that didn’t ‘go over’ well. There have been times when a trap door hidden behind the pulpit seemed like a good idea to me.
I’ve seen young singers cry after they went down off of the platform because their song didn’t come out as good as they’d planned.
The devil has told some that stood and testified in a church service that they had made a mess of their testimony and they should never testify again.
Remember the story of the Sower? (Actually the parable is more about the soil than the sower.)
He sowed everywhere he could on his property. He didn’t get good results everywhere. Nevertheless he was faithful in the sowing of the seed.
Performance never entered his mind when he walked into the field that morning. It didn’t make any difference if he sowed with his right hand or his left hand. All he had to do to get a crop was sow the seed. He was just going to sow the seed until he had planted everywhere he could. The power was in the seed, not in him.
If he had sown the seed in our present day ‘church’ fields, we would have expected him to jump up about 2 feet high, click his heels and then power slam the seed into the ground. People would have stood to their feet and screamed ‘Amen’ and maybe a few even run the aisles.
Then all of the critics of sowers would have said, “Man, that’s really sowing the seed! That’s the kind of seed sowing we like around here. He really did an awesome job of sowing the seed.”
We’re so afraid someone will think or say, “That was a lousy performance.” We would be devastated because we are conditioned with a performance mindset.
Yet all of us know that performance has nothing to do with the sowing of the seed. In actuality it may even slow down the process. If the sowing of the seed has to wait until we get done with our performance then heaven may not be pleased.
All the sower has to do is just let go of the seed. Nature and the seed take over from there. He did his job. It didn’t have to be pretty. It didn’t have to be powerful. It didn’t have to be exciting. It just had to be released.
I’m not calling for an end to good preaching and singing. Neither am I asking for any of us to not do our best. What I am asking for is for you to not be disheartened by your own sense of ‘failure’ when your ‘performance’ doesn’t turn out like you wanted. Remember. You are sowing the seed. Seed sowing doesn’t require performance to be effective.
Just sow the seed. Sow it in a song, sow it in a testimony or sow it in a sermon. Forget about performance. Don’t let Satan steal your song, shut your mouth or make you discouraged. When it leaves your hands, God takes over.