A Message from Beth Moore

Take a moment to watch this short video clip (2 minutes).  So powerful.

Catalyst East 2010: Beth Moore from Catalyst on Vimeo.

"One of the things God got through to me early on was to not surrender to an area of ministry or work; just to follow HIM, to surrender to HIM....No matter where He's going, that's where I am going." 

Would you follow no matter where He went?  Or are you have you put yourself inside of a ministry-box that is looking quite different than you expected? Would you follow Him no matter where He went?

 That is the question I feel God has been asking me lately as well. Do I expect Him to use me in just a particular area, and then get frustrated when it doesn't turn out right? Or am I willing to follow Him wherever He goes, even when it looks uncomfortable, or frightening, or unusual?

 We need to be like the disciples, who just dropped everything and went where Jesus was going. Where is He leading you today that you have been resisting?

Everyone Has a Story

One of the speakers we heard from at the Re:Write Conference was a man named Peter Strople ("the most connected man in America").  I will be honest, before the conference I did not know who this man was. When he walked up to the registration table where I was working, I was immediately struck by his gentle tone and eyes.  He has a way making people feel like a friend right away.

During his seminar, he spoke about how each person we meet has a story.  He turned towards the cameraman and asked him to come on stage.  Now, I had seen the cameraman working behind the scenes and noticed his "rocker" type look (he really did look famous, but I thought he was just a "cool dude" cameraman with his black hair and black clothes).  The cameraman joined Peter onstage and he was introduced as Marc.  It turned out that Marc was a guitarist for the group Slash and has played before millions of people.  Marc is also a committed follower of Jesus Christ, and soft-spokenly told us of his love for his family and how he has loved getting to share Jesus with people he meets after his shows.

Peter's interview with Marc was powerful, because it reminded each of us that everyone around us is important. No, everyone may not be a famous guitar player, but they have amazing stories nonetheless. Peter taught me to stop, listen, and learn from the people around me.  He also taught humility and genuineness from example; it poured out from who he was.  When you meet Peter, he looks you in the eye, calls you by name, and remembers you. Who does that?!  :)

That seminar really impacted me, because I was reminded to notice the people I pass by on a regular basis.  I am now remembering that they have a story, and that I should stop and listen to them.

-Like the mom at my son's school who I passed by every day. She was friendly, and we would say hi, but that was about it. Then I found out that she was going to have brain surgery because she had a tumor the size of a softball growing inside of her brain. If they couldn't get it out right, they might have to saw her jaw in half to get access to it through the front.  Suddenly she wasn't just "that kid's mom" - she was someone I cared about. I couldn't stop thinking about her, and so I started to pray for her.  (Her surgery went well and she is recovering). She had a story.

-I thought about the woman I met in my son's preschool class.  I sat next to her during the Mother's Day tea.  We made eye contact and said hello, but that was it.  It turned out that she was an author and speaker who was making an amazing impact all over the world. We went out to coffee, and she encouraged me to step out in new ways that I was afraid of.  If it wasn't for her, I would have never gone to the Re:Write Conference.  She had a story. 

-I thought about a woman in my church who I sat by every week, who would kindly ask how I was.  We chit-chatted, but it was nothing big.  Then one day she told me her story. We became friends.  And then I held her hand as she passed away from cancer earlier this year.  She had a story.

Peter reminded me to stop and notice those around me, because just listening to their story can make a huge impact in their lives. It can make a huge impact on OUR lives.  So, who is around you? Who are you just passing by on a daily basis?  Whose story do you need to hear?  Stop and listen. Everyone has a story.

(Want to hear more? Read Julianna's incredible story here).

When (You Feel Like) You Don't Have a Testimony

I was 15 when I was first encouraged to give my testimony. The problem was, I didn't feel like I had one.  The testimony opportunities came again on a regular basis when I was in my 20's - in college, on missions' trips, and in personal conversations. I would hear other people's lives - their befores and afters, and almost wish I had something as compelling to say; something that would captivate people's attention and grab them in a way that they would want Jesus more than ever.

I was raised in a Christian home.  I accepted Christ at age 5.  I went to Christian school.  I was a "good girl." I never rebelled and never even dated anyone until college.  I didn't drink, didn't smoke, didn't say bad words, and I had blonde hair and blue eyes (the perfect Christian storm).  Through my junior high and high school years I desperately wanted to serve Jesus and live for Him.  While others deeply longed to have my kind of testimony, I almost resented it at times.  After all, they got to be "bad girls" and yet Jesus forgave them and gave them a new start, and now they could impact so many more people than I ever could (so my thinking went). What about someone like me?  How could God use me?

After becoming an adult, I still struggled with this whole "no testimony" thing.  I didn't want to make something bad up just to sound sensational....but I didn't lose a family member, get diagnosed with an illness, go through an affair, or anything else that seemingly came with adult life.

However, that isn't to say I did not have my struggles.  While other people struggled on the outside and their testimonies were more visible, mine was an internal struggle.  There were seasons of deep doubt, of feeling abandoned by God, of questioning my faith. There were seasons where marriage problems seemed insurmountable, where friends close to me passed away, where adoptions failed and family members got sick.  But these are the things that people don't usually talk about - these are not usually the fodder for testimonies, these are the things we keep hidden.  Who wants to actually admit that they felt like God left them alone and forgot all about them?  Who wants to admit that, while others thought they had it all together, they were falling apart on the inside?

What I have begun to learn is that authenticity is testimony.  You may not have a sensational story, but revealing your heart- the dirt and grime and ugliness and hurt - is what God can use to touch others' lives as well.  When you start peeling back the layers and letting people see the real you - the you who struggles with depression, or anxiety, or fear, or panic attacks, or eating disorders, or marriage problems, or anger - others start to realize that God can bring hope to their lives too. 

It reminds me of a story my friend shared with me recently (I will call her Joy).  A new friend came to Joy's house for the first time.  Joy had cleaned her house spotless, and was enjoying showing her new friend her beautiful home.  When the friend wanted to see the upstairs, Joy was nervous because she had not cleaned it.  As Joy tentatively took her friend upstairs, the friend breathed a huge sigh of relief and said, "Whew!  Now I know that you are normal!" 

Just being open and honest can bring a huge sigh of relief to other around us who may be dying on the inside and deeply desiring to share their own struggles. Yet if we are not the first to share, sometimes they never will feel like they can open up to us. You don't have to share every detail, or "over-share" (as some make the mistake of doing), but ask God to gently lead you into conversations where you can share your story and bring glory to Him.  You just might have an amazing testimony!