Audience of One

My Testimony of Chasing after God’s Will for My Life

“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Matthew 16:25

I spent almost 30 years trying to hang on to my life.  I felt a desire to chase after success for myself.  I would step over others to get what I wanted and never feel bad about it.  Then one night I realized my life hadn’t been worth hanging on to.  I cried out to God and He answered my call.

At that moment after I spent my life chasing money by going all-in on a poker addiction I decided to give up my life for the one Christ was offering me through repentance.  I sought forgiveness of my sins from the Lord, I asked Jesus into my heart, and I believe with absolute certainty that Christ is Lord.

I lost my life after Jesus saved me.  I started to talk, act, and think differently.  Some people around me started calling me “The New John Simmons”.  The life I once hung to was gone, and it was apparent to others.

After I spent months reading God’s Word, worshipping in church, and fellowshipping with other believers I realized that believers are supposed to give up our lives again.  I initially thought that my new life was enough to satisfy me, but living a life for Christ by doing things that ultimately only served myself was not the life God wanted me to have.  I realized I needed to give up my life of selfishness again by chasing after the will of God for my life. 

In May 2013 I believe God called me to quit my job to start a ministry called Testimony House.  The income I made at my job landed inside the top 10% of income for males in the US.  I made good money and had no worries about bills or finances.  I could’ve easily stayed there and just shared the light of Christ inside me with those in my workplace.  Instead, I took a big leap of faith to chase after the path I believed God called me to walk.

The mission statement of Testimony House includes 2 major parts:

1)     To equip believers with the knowledge that they can lead others to Christ simply by sharing their own personal stories of how and why Christ saved them.    

2)     To teach believers that God has a purpose for their lives, that includes serving God and others, and that they are to use their God-given gifts, talents and the power of the Holy Spirit to walk in God’s will for their lives.

 “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23-24

As I stepped out into this new life I realized I needed God to be involved in every detail of my life.  I needed Him to provide food, gas, and clothing, not to mention instructions for how to run a ministry and share the gospel without training or experience.  God is good, and I felt His presence in every detail of my life.  I went almost 15 months without a paycheck.  In that time, I met my wife, received miracle checks from people that funded our ministry for over a year, and I never missed a meal or made a late bill payment.  Most importantly, in that time I was able to share the transforming power of the gospel message with lost and hurting people, and encourage believers to use their gifts and talents to chase after the life God wanted them to have.

My Struggles in Sharing the Gospel

“Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes.” Proverbs 19:2

I have complete enthusiasm in my calling and there have been times my faith has been taller than my wisdom.  I sometimes rush out of the gate too quickly and have made mistakes or miscalculations because of it.  It is my absolute desire to tell as many people about Christ and what He has put on my heart, but I don’t always have to do those things as quickly as I can.

In my desire to share the gospel I have started projects to share Jesus with others without defined goals and watched them not turn out as I expected.  I have also spent months getting ready for things I believed God asked me to do that had defined goals and seen them also not turn out as expected.  I often misuse words and say things like, “God told me” when I could be saying things like “I have faith in God for this.”  I will always need improvement in my ability to distinguish if the path I am following Jesus down is actually where He is calling me to go. 

My enthusiasm to share Christ with others stems from my big faith to chase after Him.  When chasing after Christ, I feel like I can see Him on the other side of the street and I want to lead a path to get others to Him.  I want so desperately for others to get to Christ that sometimes I rush into traffic without looking only to get hit by a truck.  When in all circumstances it would’ve been better to let Jesus act as the crossing guard and signal when it was time for us to cross.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews12:1

I try and live my life openly.  I share my struggles, my faith, and my Savior with others, whether it is on the internet or in my everyday life.  My family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, church members, and many others are the crowd of witnesses to my life of faith.  When I chase after God’s will and they see me trip up because of the enemy, my sin, or my mistakes, it is easy for them to not see God in what I’m doing or to question what God is really doing in my life.

It is my desire to allow God to expose my sin from my life so that I can strip it away from my life.  Any sin that cause me to trip is an avenue for the enemy to bring doubt into my heart.  Sometimes, the doubt that I, or the witnesses to my life of faith, try to instill in my heart lingers there longer than it should.  It is not always easy to chase after God, and it is even harder to do it when everyone is watching and hoping it doesn’t work out.  My life of faith will never stop though, my God is worth chasing after, even though I may stumble Christ will hold on to my hand so that I will not fall.

My Desire to Get Back Up When I Stumble

 “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.” Proverbs 24:16

I trip all the time.  Thankfully, the point of making a mistake is not to be discouraged because I tripped up, but to be encouraged because Christ will help me get up and following Him again.  The lives of those that are part of Testimony House have watched as one seemingly disastrous moment after another has attacked our lives.  There are people around us that believe these moments are evidence that God isn’t at our work or our lives, but I would say ministries that don’t face trials aren’t really inside God’s will. 

Every major story in the Bible, from Abraham to David to every Apostle, tells the story of people that have faced adversity or made mistakes only to find the endurance to get up and finish or see God’s will done.  I have heard many prominent church leaders, pastors, and evangelists talk about the trials and mistakes they made long before they were regionally or nationally known.  Those leaders also share a similar testimony that seems to confirm that the disastrous moments that come from chasing after God’s will never stop.  The thing that separates those leaders from others is that they have built up their faith in God to know they need to get back up when they trip regardless of what was to blame.

My Need for Christ

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

When we get back up after a trial we have to understand that God works it all out for His good.  Before we are saved all the troubles and trials we faced put us on a road to seek out Christ as our Savior.  When we are born again all the troubles and trials we face now are also meant to put us on a road to seek out Christ again! 

We need Christ to receive salvation, and we also need Christ to continue to save us from the sin and trials in our lives because those things do not end when we become a Christian.  We will continually need to seek out forgiveness, which comes through Christ, after God exposes our sins to light.  We will also need to seek out Christ for protection, guidance, and comfort when we face our troubles.  In both cases, Christ will work out our lives to bear good fruit from our circumstances.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Even though I get tripped up, I believe it is my call to keep going.  It is the call for any Christian to chase after God’s will and share the gospel with others.  I may say or do things that the results of which lead others to place a judgment that something is wrong, out of place, or not working.  I am thankful to know that Christ does not see things how the world does, and instead He looks inwardly to the heart of His people.  I desire to have a heart that wants to share Christ with the world and to that end:

I would rather say the wrong thing with a right heart than say the right thing with the wrong heart.

My intention is to tell others that Jesus Christ came and lived a sinless life, died and was resurrected by God as payment for our sins, and that their salvation is secure when they believe that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior.

God knows that is my intention, as well as the intention of any believer that is actively trying to share the gospel message that Christ came and died to provide us with.  Believers are not to be discouraged when the enemy sends the world, which may include our family, friends, and other believers, to tell us the path we believe God sent us on to share that message is wrong.  Problems may arise, things may happen you didn’t except or produce unwanted results but those that have the faith to share Christ with others should know that if someone is discouraging you from sharing the saving power of Christ with others you shouldn’t listen.

My Audience of One

“Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant.” Galatians 1:10

All of my mistakes, failings, and shortcomings that come because I am chasing after Christ are worth making.  Every single time I trip I get to grab Jesus and hold on to Him, and there is no better place to be than in the arms of Jesus.  It may have been the enemy, haste or lack of knowledge that made me make a possible wrong move but at least I made one.  I would rather use my faith to step out and believe for God to do big things that bring glory to His Kingdom then sit back and watch as every else does it, even if those big steps cause me to stumble.

God has asked all His people to go out into the world and share the gospel of Christ with the world, and I am trying to do that.  I will always strive to live a life that is pleasing to God.  I will absolutely make mistakes along the way, so please be patient with me because I will always be a work in progress.  I don’t have everything figured out.  The only thing I know I need to do is share Christ with others by declaring the following scriptures to be true:

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

My Encouragement to Others Chasing after God’s Will

In my time in ministry I have learned how difficult it is to try and share Christ with the world.  It is hard to stay bold and zealous in a world that doesn’t want to hear the gospel.  It is tough to have faith for the next thing God wants to do through us when we are so disappointed by our circumstances.  It hurts when our desire to share Christ with those close to us leads us to be discouraged by people you love and care most about.  Sometimes, it is very tough to want to chase after God when we know that path will cause us to trip and stumble. 

“Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life.  And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.  Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.  Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.” 1 Peter 3:13-18

God’s Word tells us it is better to suffer because we are in God’s will than to suffer for doing wrong –which is to live our lives with Christ as the our Lord of our lives.

I want to encourage any believer today that is struggling with doing what is right.  You are not alone.  If your struggle is personal or in ministry we are reminded in these verses that we will be rewarded if we suffer for doing what is right.  The Bible tells believers that we must keep our conscience clear and not be worried by attacks.  Instead we are called to share our hope with others in a gentle and respectful way.  Being able to do those things is the true evidence that you are living a life inside God’s will.

I love Jesus.   He saved me from certain death.  I am happy to share my faith for God’s will for my life with anyone that asks. 

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace.” Acts 20:24

I will continue to wear my heart for Christ on my sleeve and use my faith to jump without a net, and I encourage anyone who has called Jesus to be their Savior to do the same thing.  Live for Christ and remember there is no need to try to win the approval of man when you are a servant of Christ.  Follow where Jesus calls you, don’t be afraid to trip because He will not let you fall and remember that even if you make mistakes God can turn around all things for our good.