My Baptism Testimony

Greetings all!  I was recently invited to share my baptism testimony so I thought I would share it here as well.  I pray it blesses someone!

My baptism testimony may be far from what you are accustomed to hearing or expecting but it will hold the most vital and common thread as other baptism testimonies because it pertains to obedience. Before you begin reading I would like to make it abundantly clear that the people I write about in this testimony could be you or me any day of the week. God is sovereign and uses us to be participants on both sides of circumstances for His ultimate glory and He does so however He sees fit. I am thankful.

If you have hiked this Christian journey for long you have probably discovered that being a disciple of Christ is not about prioritizing your emotional needs nor is it about securing your earthly comfort. The priority call is about being obedient to God and His word regardless of your emotion or convenience, come what may.

I was baptized as a child but was unsure if it had been as a result of my saying yes to Christ or yes to my parents. I knew I personally needed to make the decision to say yes to the Lord by being in agreement with Him and acting in obedience to His word and not because someone else had decided for me. What I did not know was the resolve it would require on my part to not submit to the overwhelming distractions that surprisingly presented themselves and to stand firmly resolute in my decision to be obedient to God. There is no doubt He helped me when I felt attacked by the enemy’s fiery darts and He will help you as well. God loves you. Trust Him.

While I attended the baptism candidate meeting my husband stayed home with our small children and planned to meet me at church with them before the service began. While waiting for him to arrive I walked around thanking the Lord from a heart full of anticipation of what was about to transpire when someone approached me and said he had a word for me. I was excited and anticipated it to be a good word because I was being obedient to the Lord and therefore assumed the outcome. I was blindsided because I never expected he would say what he did. I absolutely could not relate to what he said and even questioned if he might have me confused with someone else. My thoughts were things like, “Didn’t he know I was going to be baptized? Why would someone say something like that minutes before the service would begin? I was wearing the purple shirt and all!” He insisted he was correct in what he said and persisted with the scolding. As a result, I walked away feeling downhearted and muddled.

Minutes later all the baptism candidates were called to the stage as everyone worshiped the Lord in song. As I stood there still stunned and wondering what really had just happened I glanced around at the baptism candidates and couldn’t help but notice their joy. I seemed so out of sorts and felt as if I did not fit in and contemplated if maybe I should try another time. I noticed my husband had entered the sanctuary and he seemed peaked. He has life-threatening brain bleeds and has had 2 brain surgeries as a result. I can always tell something is seriously wrong by the way his eyes appear. As I approached him I immediately observed something was amiss. He informed me that as he was carrying our youngest he tripped and fell down the stairs. In his effort to protect her, he hit his head several times on the steps as they fell. My husband is not the sort of person that falls down stairs. We discussed leaving and going to the hospital and I wondered again why all this was happening at this particular time. As I walked around trying to sort it all out and if I should leave or push through, Kim approached me and asked what was wrong. I toughened up and said I was fine. She obviously had a fine-tuned hooey gauge and I am sure it was indicating something was not right. She prayed with me and informed me that I absolutely should go through with the baptism. I looked over at my husband and he indicated he would be ok and not to worry.

The baptism would be held indoors so all the baptism candidates made their way into the respective bathrooms which fed into the baptistry. While finally feeling in a position to get my thinking straight and pray thankful prayers to the Lord, my thoughts were distracted by conversations people were having while in line. They were talking and laughing about all manner of things that would not be expected to be heard in this environment and I found myself becoming distressed again. I remember I kept thinking everything is so wrong, so, so, wrong. I began seriously questioning whether this was the right time for me to be baptized because, in my opinion, I was feeling quite emotionally unfit for such an event. A very compassionate lady who was in charge of getting everyone ready to enter the water apparently detected my distress and encouraged me to keep going. Among others things, she said no one had ever given up and not gone through with baptism. My troubled mind thought, “Good grief, not only am I suffering such a trial at a time when I thought I should be having an incredible experience but now I am going to be the first in World Outreach Church history to not go through with baptism!” What I did not recognize at the time was I was experiencing a spiritual attack.

Before I could give it any more thought the door opened and it was my turn. I entered the water and Pastor Allen asked me if there was anything I wanted to say. Perhaps he said that to everyone or maybe he said it just to me because he could detect my apprehension. I responded with, “I’m good, I’m good.” No telling how many times I said it because he answered with, “I believe you.” I was quite sure his hooey gauge was also indicating something was awry but I thought, “What could be said at that point?”

I was baptized and as soon as I rose out of those baptism waters I can testify that I was freed from all the enemy’s harassment that occurred that afternoon. I now understood there had been a spiritual battle waging around me.

When the service was over and I was in the parking lot, I raised my tightly clenched fist and spoke to my spiritual enemy saying, “You knew there was something to this. You KNEW! THAT is why you did not want me to go through with this! Because you KNEW the importance of my obedience!” I no longer felt sad or confused. Everything was clear and I felt empowered. If we can suffer in our testing without losing faith and maintain a thankful heart we can become more and more like Jesus every day (Hebrews 5:8).

Beloved, you are deeply loved by God. You will face a multitude of hurdles during your time under the sun but never forget that God is for you. We have an enemy. He is real, he is clever, and he is relentless. But be of good cheer! Jesus has secured the victory and IN HIM you are not a victim but a victor! Be prepared to take your place as a warrior in the army of the living God. You have a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) cheering you on so be disciplined, persevere, and stand strong. Do not allow your age, your station in life, the current condition of your heart, or any other barrier to keep you from being obedient to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. You will be blessed by your obedience. Be bold for the cause of Christ and be sure to encourage someone else towards their obedience in the Lord as well. You may be the next one the Lord uses to stop and pray for someone needing strength to persevere. You can do it!

So don’t delay! Get up and be baptized and wash away your sins by calling on His name.
(Acts 22:16)

I would love to hear your baptism testimony!

In His grace,

Amanda

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God Gives Grace To Endure

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power, is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Oh, the weaknesses of the flesh!  How our heart is so prone to wander and our resolve so susceptible to crumble when we allow ourself to ponder the greatness of our own opinion.  Help us Lord in our vast weakness that stretches ever before us; strengthen us with Your power.  You alone are our confidence and our very great reward.

Renew afresh in us Lord the truth that our weaknesses of the flesh are merely prime opportunities to allow the power of Christ to dwell richly in us!  By the sustaining grace of Christ alone will we find contentment alongside our distress.

Before we move too far forward let’s not allow the five opening words of this verse escape us.  “But He said to me.”  The Lord spoke, Paul listened.

“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.”  (Philippians 2:13)

We must know that it is God’s grace that enables us during times of distress to overcome our obstacles which keep us from His best.  If we are left strictly to our own ability we will surely shipwreck our faith and run aground.  God works in us and gives us the desire to push on and through life’s distresses so that His good purposes are achieved in and through us.  Oh, that or heart may behold His glory in this!  He is for our good and equips us so that His goodness in us triumphs over the inherent weakness of our flesh.  When we are tempted to despair it is God who strengthens our fundamentally weak flesh and fortifies us yet again to contend for the faith while rooted ever so securely in Christ Jesus.  It is God who enables and fuels our desire to be better, to do better, and to keep trying.  His good purpose is to sanctify our souls so that we become more like Christ with each passing day.

Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.

If we agree that our heart is prone to wander and to leave the God we love, as the words of this hymn suggest in Come, Thy Fount of Every Blessing, then we must understand that neither will we be prone to steadfastness in our difficult relationships and circumstances.  We must work diligently because if our fickle heart is prone to wander from the God we love then why would it be any different in our earthly relationships and when faced with distressing trials?  It will truly only be easier to shrink back.

When the going gets tough do we choose to toughen our fleshly resolve to defend our opinions and allow our heart to wander away?  When trials shake us to the core do we submit to them knowing God’s grace is our sufficiency or do we wiggle and wrangle our way out of them not desiring for one second to see what He might be showing us about our own misguided opinions and desires?  We need Your help, Lord.

God gives us the grace to endure because if we allow it, all things can be purposeful.  He has the absolute power to turn all things towards His goodness.  Will you allow His will to become yours?  Submit to Him and He absolutely will lead your wandering heart back to His love.

In His powerful grace,

Amanda

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Be The Salt and Make Christ Visible

“You are the salt of the earth.  You are the light of the world.”  Matthew 5:13a, 14a

Greetings fellow sojourners!  One thing I am learning while on this walk of faith is to not be satisfied with the status quo.  It helps to push yourself to love more today than yesterday, yield yourself more fully to Christ more today than yesterday, strive to lean into the truth of the Word more today than yesterday, and so forth.  You must direct your mind to it if you intend for it to be accomplished.

During our stay under the sun, we are to be salt to the earth and light to the world.  We are here to be a blessing.  As Christ’s disciples, we are to be the ‘salt’ and “to circulate among and purify the corrupted mass of mankind by heavenly doctrines and holy examples” (Word Study Dictionary) and we are to do this by way of wisdom and prudence.  Think of it as seasoning those around us with the savor of Christ.  Salt keeps things pure and saves from corruption (it is the agent by which meat is preserved).   If we merely profess our religion it is fit for nothing.  As the rest of the verse states, “if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty?  It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.”

The word “taste” in this verse implies someone acting as a simpleton; acting passively as if they did not know what to do.  If salt loses its taste it no longer remains for the purpose for which it exists.  The antonym of the Greek word moraino which is translated as ‘taste’ here is sophroneo and means to act with a sound mind.  So instead of refraining from seasoning creation with the savor of Christ as if we did not even know how, we behave with the sound mind God gave us and salt the earth as He intended for us to do.

Chemically, there is more to light than what we can see.  With this in mind, illuminate Christ knowing in faith there is much more happening in the spiritual realm than what your fleshly eyes can behold.  Salt effectively and illuminate boldly fellow sojourner – you can do it.

In His grace,

Amanda

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Mars Hill

“For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.”  Acts 17:28

Greetings fellow sojourners.  You are precious in the eyes of the Lord!

Not long ago my kids participated in speech and debate tournaments and one of the categories was Mars Hill Impromptu.  Its intent was to train students to connect the current culture and Christianity in order to point people towards Christ.  They were required to identify the universal themes contained in various classic and popular artistic genres (books, movies, songs, etc.) and discuss the relationship of those themes to the Biblical truths of Christianity and God’s work in the world. The name of this event was taken from the Apostle Paul’s speech in Athens (recorded in Acts 17) when he used Greek cultural ideas to find common ground in order to make a connection for them to Christ (Acts 17:16-34).

Mars Hill was the meeting place for the Areopagus Court (see Acts 17:22-34), the highest court in Greece for civil, criminal, and religious matters.  Even under Roman rule, Mars Hill was an important meeting place where philosophy, religion, and the law was discussed.  (The picture below shows the plaque tribune at Mars Hill commemorating Paul’s efforts in apologetics.)

During this time, the Greeks had constructed an altar to an ‘unknown god’ (Acts 17:23).  Paul used this altar and the Greek’s religious idolatry as a launching point (Mars Hill Impromptu example) to proclaim to them the truth about the one true God and how they could be reconciled to Him.

I remember learning that possibly the best way to speak the Gospel message to an unbeliever would not be by proclaiming the authority of Scripture because it absolutely held no jurisdiction for an unbeliever and would, therefore, be meaningless.  The Gospel becomes the authority to someone only after accepting the Lordship of Christ Jesus in their own personal life.  Until then, possibly the best ways to bring someone into a conversation about Christ is to relate their current circumstances to Biblical truths as in the Mars Hill example.  In other words, meet people where they are in their life and communicate to them how the answers to life’s universal themes can be solved by Biblical truths.  This then leads to a defense of the Christian faith; or apologetics.

Can you think of a few current cultural issues in your sphere of influence which you could speak to someone in a Mars Hill fashion?  For instance, which moral hot topics can you speak about while reinforcing your responses with the truth of Scripture?  (God’s love should always be the foundation.)  Maybe such topics as doctor-assisted suicide, gay and lesbian relations, abortion, and divorce are a few topics for you to consider.  I sincerely hope this leads you to God’s word as you think through and investigate future conversations you might have as the Lord opens doors for you to share His grace with others.

In His love and grace,

Amanda

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