Monday, 4 February 2008

Why Your Story Counts

I had a tremendous weekend. We had our leaders camp at Waihi beach.
Now usually I try to pack around 5-6 sessions but this weekend we only had 2. The idea was to get to really know one another. I wanted to kick this year off really emphasizing our value of doing life together. It was awesome!

This Sunday night at 6pm we kicked off our new series called, 'Just Walk Across The Room'. To kick the series off I encouraged everyone of the power of their story / testimony. Rev 12:11 says
Rev 12:11 ESV
(11) And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

So here's 3 reasons why your story is so powerful:
  1. Your story is interesting to your friends
    • (Thats why reality TV is so popular)
  2. Your story is relevant to your friends
    • (While a drug addicts / gangsters stories are amazing... most of your friends and peers just aren't drug addicts or gangsters... its your story that they can relate to!)
  3. No one can argue with your story
So as I challenged our church community... will you THIS week share your story with at least one person?
Have a great week!

1 comment:

Paul's Thoughts said...

Great post Clive! I missed the service on Sunday so it was fantastic to get a quick synopsis from you. “Doing life together”, connecting with others via a testimony by ‘just walking across the room’.

No one wants to be a lone wolf, have no friends, talk to themselves, play endless computer chess, or try to carry that couch into a new apartment all by themselves.

I read of this poor retired man in his 70’s, this if any was a lonely soul. He spent most of his everyday playing solitaire. You know that computer game I am talking about. "In ten years playing this game he has recorded the completion of 132,400 games, he has recorded the results of each one, and he can show any visitor six ledger books full with all the figures." Now don’t think that such isolation occurred just because he was old and perhaps had lost a partner, this kind of loneliness can be found in the young. People can be surrounded with all kinds of friends, even family, together with a bunch of charming acquaintances and still be the loneliest soul on the planet.

Have you ever felt lonely? I know that at some point everyone feels lonely. This is why we naturally want to be “doing life together”. There was once an advertisement in a Kansas newspaper that read like this: "I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes without comment for five dollars". It sounds like a hoax, doesn't it? But it wasn't long before that individual who had placed the advertisement in the newspaper was bombarded by about 10 to 20 calls a day. When you think about this, it is not really that remarkable at all. Some feel this loneliness for a moment, others for a season and perhaps for an unfortunate few even for a lifetime. When you read the psalms in the Bible there are many low and high points. Loneliness is there to.
“Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none.” (Ps 69:20) W. Tozer said: "Most of the worlds great souls have been lonely". Albert Einstein would have agreed: "It is strange to be known so universally, and yet to be so lonely".

Moving on to personal testimony. I think people are so awesome, I mean, they are really fantastic when they are straight up true to themselves, no masquerading, no personally management, no self regulating image projection to try and live up to unrealistic expectations or even skewed ambitions about physical appearance. Everyone has treasure in them, which means our personal testimonies are gold, but only if they are genuine and reflect true reality.

I’m not sure about your last point Clive that “no one can argue with your story”, you might be right but I’m struggling with it. I agree that one of the most authentic ways to present God’s truth working in our lives is share our testimony, the story of God working in our life. Now that is awesome. However, if I assert that no one can argue with my history, my story, that it is a proven account that no one can dismiss, then to be fair, such an account can not be used in the form of a persuasive argument. There are other testimonies out there, not just those that promote Christianity, but there are experiential testimonies from psychics, Muslims, scientologists, (just listen to Tom Cruise on Utube!), who all say their experiences give weight to the truthfulness of their beliefs. For example, there are academics that are trying to assemble evidence to support the belief in reincarnation. Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia is the most notable, and has published many case studies, mostly children, that give testimony to the possibility of reincarnation. Some of the published journal articles and books include; “American children who claim to remember previous lives”, “Children who remember previous lives: a question of reincarnation”, “European cases of the reincarnation type”, this list goes on. Now, am I supposed listen to reincarnation testimonies and think, “this can not be argued against”, it is authentic personal history? Stevenson and his colloquies have investigated over 2500 cases, and have also given reports on out of body experiences, apparition and after-death communications and death bed visions to name a few!

If I supposed that the door to reality is through experience, how am I to make a distinction between a “man who eats little and sees heaven and the man who drinks much and sees snakes”? And so, I am not sure where to go on your last point that “no one can argue with your story.” I say this because metaphysics and experience are not necessary synonymous. Steve Kumar notes that “experience is something one has and metaphysics is the interpretation of that experience”. When someone says they read the daily horoscopes and they come true for them, even with the backing of many personal testimonies, I beg to differ on their interpretation. Perhaps people can argue about certain personal testimonies, they could do so by questioning how to interpret them. Furthermore, personal experiences can be countered by opposing experiences.

I guess for the Christian, the gospel trumps personal testimony, unless of course the testimony contains the message of the gospel. It is essentially, the power of the gospel, or God, that makes it convincing and real. Personal testimony alone will not suffice, but is a good starting point for trying to connect with another person.

Once again Clive, you have got me thinking. =)