That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life...
Philippians 2:15-16a

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Testimony

I've had my blog for over a year now, and I've never given my testimony on it.  I only had the idea a couple of weeks ago, so today I decided that's what I would post.

Most testimonies start with the typical "I was born and raised in a Christian home...".  Well, mine is the typical :).  What I'm finding out though, is that it's not so typical for the born-and-raised-in-a-Christian-home kids to stick with their faith.   Maybe that's where I break the typical mold. 

I was born and raised in a Christian home.  My Dad was also born and raised in a Christian home as was his mother and most likely his grandparents too, and maybe even farther back than that!  He accepted Jesus as his Saviour when he was a teenager, and he has grown, matured, and remained faithful to the Lord his whole life.  I am truly thankful for the example of a godly father.  My Dad prayed with us before we went to bed, read the Bible to us, and brought us to church faithfully.  He taught me good values and morals.  He taught me respect, character, and to have a strong work ethic.  He didn't just teach me those things, he lives them too!  That's what makes my Dad special.  He is probably the wisest man I know.  If my Dad tells me to do something I know there is a good reason, and I know it's a good decision to listen to his advice and follow it.

My Mom was born into an unsaved family.  She was surrounded by ungodly, worldly people her whole life.  Her family was not necessarily a wicked and immoral family, but they smoked, cursed, drank, and partied, and my Mom did the same.  When she was in college she met a girl who was a Christian.  This girl pointed my Mom to Christ, and my Mom was saved.  She and my Dad met shortly after her conversion and the rest is history :).  My Mom (and others) prayed for her parents to accept Christ for nearly 20 years, and Praise the Lord that both her mother and father are in heaven today.  Now we are praying for my aunts, uncles, and cousins to accept Christ too.

I am so thankful for the godly parents God gave to me.  They have had a huge role in shaping me into the person I am today.  They've taught me, counselled me, supported me, and encouraged me. 

I accepted Jesus as my Saviour when I was five years old.  I knew that I was a sinner, and that I needed forgiveness for my sin.  I am thankful that salvation is so simple that even a child can accept Christ.  I don't remember much about the night I was saved.  I do remember asking my Mom if I could be saved, and I remember praying with her.  I also remember being happy that now I was a Christian.  After my salvation, even though I was so young, I made a conscious decision to follow Christ for the rest of my life, and I've never looked back!

When I was about eight or nine I went through a period of doubting my salvation.  I think all new Christians experience this no matter what their age is.  As I was getting older I began to understand more about the cross and Jesus' death and resurrection.  Our pastor in our church would often give an invitation at the end of the service and invited people who wanted to accept Christ to pray after him.  When I would hear that prayer, I questioned my own prayer.  Mine had been different.  I had said different words.  Maybe mine didn't count.  Many times I prayed that prayer after him in silence, just to make sure I was really saved.  I never shared my doubts with anyone at the time.  In my heart I new I really was saved, but I always just wanted to make sure.  After a while the doubts disappeared.  The Holy Spirit taught me and helped me mature even more to the point of understanding that it's not the exact words that you say that saves you, it is genuine repentance and faith in Christ's atoning death and resurrection that saves you.  I had repented, and I did have faith, so I was (and still am) saved! Eph. 1:13.

The summer that I was twelve I was baptized.  This was just another step on the path of my life of trying to follow the Lord.  My baptism didn't save me, but it showed others that I had given my life to the Lord.  It was also a reminder to me that I needed to be serious in my Christian faith.  I remember going through a class at church before I was baptized, and having a burning desire in my heart to just live for Christ, and not be a part of the world.

As a young person I was very involved in our church.  I played the piano, helped in Sunday school and junior church, sang, worked in the nursery, participated in the Christmas play, cleaned, helped at VBS, and many more things.  If there was something going on at church I wanted to be there.  But things were changing at our church.  People didn't seem to want to follow the Sciptures in all matters of faith and practice.  Little by little false teaching was creeping in.  False teaching is very subtle because it mixes truth with error, and even a little error makes something wrong.  On the outside the church looked good.  The people looked good.  The music sounded good.  The preaching was good.  But little, tiny changes were being made.  Most people didn't even notice and those who did either didn't care or actually welcomed the change.  But God's truth was being compromised.  I'm not sure why my family didn't change along with everyone else, but I praise God for the discernment He gave us to continue in the things which we had learned (II Tim 3:14). 

I'm not aware of all the changes and controversies that took place because I was still young, but there were some I definitely noticed and that affected my Christian testimony greatly.  One was a change in Bible.  Our church had always used the King James Version of the Bible.  It was in the pews and most, if not all, of the members used it and brought it with them on Sundays.  Our pastor decided to begin preaching out of the American Standard Version.  This led to a change in his preaching.  It became sprinkled with error.  There is a vast difference in all modern versions of the Bible and the KJV.  God has preserved His true and perfect word for us, and in english that is the King James Bible.  Once the Bible version changed other things started changing.  Social drinking became acceptable.  Participating in forms of gambling became acceptable.  Joining with other churches that taught heresy became acceptable.  Having unsaved people participate in the Sunday morning services became acceptable.  Evangelistic efforts became fewer (a result of our pastor being a Calvinist).  Sin wasn't being dealt with.  The preaching became soft.  Certain issues had to be avoided in order not to offend people.  One of the most shocking things that happend for me was the day that my Sunday school teachers told our class (I was 15 at the time) that social drinking was completely okay.  I remember being so upset that Sunday!  I told my parents and they confronted that teacher.  She apologized, but never changed her views. 

As more and more compromises were being made in the church, my parents gradually pulled back from the various ministries they were involved in.  During this time I longed for a church where I could fit in.  A church where I could live a holy life and not be called legalistic.  Where I could read the Bible I chose and not be thought of as old-fashoined and uneducated.  A church were people didn't laugh at me and say I only believed these things because my parents told me I had to.  That was probably one of the things I resented the most; people assuming I believed in the KJV because my parents made me. That was not true at all.  My convictions came from my own Bible study and research.  I knew what the Bible said, and I knew taking words like blood, Jehovah, and propitiation out of the Bible was wrong.  I knew taking out verses like Acts 8:37 and I John 5:17 was wrong.  I knew God wouldn't have let us have the King James Bible for over 300 years if there were verses in it He didn't want us to know! I knew these things because I studied them myself and because the Holy Spirit gave me understanding.  If they were just things I believed because my parents told me to the conviction would not have lasted. 

I knew that I wanted to attend Bible college after I finished high school, but they were all just more of the same wishy-washy, compromised, worldly type of Christianity that I was seeing at church.  Because my Mom homeschooled us I was able to finish highschool when I was 17.  Earlier in that year my Mom had attened a Ladies Retreat with a friend at an Independent Baptist Church in Ajax, Ontario.  They also had a Bible college.  My Mom brought me home a brouchure and told me about the church.  She had been very impressed with the Ladies Retreat.  She said they were just like we were and believed the same things we did.  I was shocked!  For so long we had thought we were the only ones in the world that believed what we did about the Bible and about truth, and now we knew we weren't.  God is good!  Not only were we not the only ones, but there were hundreds and thousands of people just like us in Canada!  There are over 200 Independent Baptist Churches in Canada, 2 Bible colleges, 3 Christian camps, and a host of other ministries that hold to Biblical doctrines that Independent  Baptists stand for.  And that's just in Canada.  There are literally thousands of Independent Baptist churches in the United States, and thousands more missionaries planting and pastoring churches around the world! We definitely weren't the only ones who had these beliefs.  And even more amazing is that we didn't have to compromise our beliefs in order to have Christian fellowship. God provided fellowship with likeminded Christians.

I applied to Bible college and was accepted.  That too was a miracle because generally an Independent Baptist Bible college only accpets those who are members of an Independet Baptist church.  I was not a memeber of such a church, but somehow I was accepted.  It was simply the Lord because He knew that was the place where I needed to go.

I attended FaithWay Baptist College of Canada for four years and received a Bachelor of Sacred Music Degree.  My growth as a Christian during those four years was amazing.  God was shaping me, changing me, teaching me, breaking me, and molding me to surrender to His will for my life.  I had always been surrendered to what the Lord wanted me to do, but I had some attitudes that He needed to fix.  I was proud of my hard, conservative stand for truth.  I was often judgemental of those who did not share my convictions.  I praise the Lord for my convictions and I wish all Christians shared them because they are biblical, but my pride often stood in the way of me being an effective witness. 

After Bible College I worked on the music faculty of FaithWay Baptist College and on the staff of FaithWay Baptist Church for three years.  Again those years were a valuable experience and gave me many life lessons that have helped me.  I always knew that I would not be at FaithWay forever.  I actually thought the Lord would call me to the mission field.  But the seven years I spent at FaithWay gave me a burden for my own country.  Through an amazing sequence of events the Lord moved me back to North Bay, Ontario.  My parents had been attending the Near North Baptist Church in North Bay for several years, and I made that my church home too.  Near North is also and Independent Baptist church that stands for the truth of the Word of God without compromise. 

My newest venture is opening my own business in North Bay.  If you've been reading my blog you already know all about that :).  My desire and passion all my life has been to serve the Lord.  I thank God for the opportunities He has given me to fulfill that desire.  I thank Him for the trials that have brought me closer to Him.  I thank Him for giving me the convictions I have from His Word.  I thank Him for leading me to the Independent Baptists, so I didn't have to be the only one who lived and believed the way I did.  I thank Him for His faithfulness in providing me with employment, a car, a house, and many other material things that I do not even deserve.  I thank Him most of all for sending His Son to die for me, so that I might have a home in heaven when I die.  God willing I will spend the next 28 (and hopefully more :) years of my life serving Him.

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