The Story Of(?) Plus Pun-ishment

March 1, 2019

Introduction

 

All Christians have a story. It may be a story from their past or their present, it may be story of an experience or their salvation, healing, or other miracle that occurred in their life. Some stories, such as my own salvation experience, are fairly simple while others may be very long and complicated. The sharing of the story at the most appropriate time can have a great impact on others. We generally call these stories a testimony because we are testifying of the goodness of God and how He has blessed us.

 

The funny thing about Christian testimonies, is we are generally not expecting to tell them when suddenly the Holy Spirit reminds us of a time or situation where God did something for us, and this is the right time to share how His blessing helped us.

 

With that said, I hope you can see that our testimonies are actually Jesus’ testimonies; they are tools we have been given to assist Him. Testimonies are a device He will use through us to orchestrate change in others. This is evidenced in Galatians 2:20 which says, "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me..." Whose testimony, other than Jesus’ could it be if Christ now lives in us?  

 

There are some who do not understand this which is demonstrated through their abuse of a testimony when they embellish it, use it for leverage, claim it as their own (effort or success), brag about it, or use it out of context. Our testimonies are not stories to be abused and misused because as I said, they are Gods and the times we share them are times of ministry and worship.

 

Think about a time when our youth came back from a conference and shared some of the events that impacted them. These testimonies bless almost everyone who hears them, not just because of the impact on the child, but because we can feel God in that testimony. We are blessed by it because first, we feel God in it first, then by that someone so young is being used by God, and finally by the results of the event the child shared. God touched them and then through them, He touches us with the child’s testimony.

 

Testimonies may be built on a foundation of tragedy or joy. They may stem from an experience, a prophecy, a quiet time with God, a minister’s message, or any number of opportunities. Where it stems from is far less important than how and when it is presented. Sometimes God may call on you with no notice while other times you may be given advance notice and time to prepare. It really does not matter as long as it is God’s story not yours.

I recently read an article about how to write your testimony. It was filled with good guidance and direction. It broke your testimony down into 5 or 6 primary areas of focus and gave guidance about the type of verbiage to use. Perhaps, if you have advance notice, some of these would be helpful; however, if you just trust God in your preparation, whether it is a months’ time or five seconds time, you will do fine. With that said, I will give you four easy pointers concerning the sharing of your testimony:

  • Don’t repeat yourself

  • Stick to the story (no rabbit trails)

  • Never embellish the story

  • Let God both drive and navigate the ship (story)

The rest of this message is made up of stories and testimonies people have shared that have had an impact on me. I encourage you to read each because though some may bless you more than others, all reflect God working in and through people for His purposes. Some of these involve a person being changed while others helped others change. All of them are true.

 

Actor Ernest Borgnine

Testimony of an interesting Easter

 

I always loved Ernest Borgnine and enjoyed every role I saw him in from McHale on McHale’s Navy to Mermaid Man on SpongeBob Square Pants (and everywhere in between). The following story was published in Guideposts Magazine and shows another side, a more spiritual side, of this well-loved man. The movie he refers to was actually a mini series released in the mid 1970’s.

 

“Back in 1975, I was offered a part in the film Jesus of Nazareth, which through the years has been shown at Easter time on NBC.  Our cast, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, included Anne Bancroft as Mary Magdalene and Olivia Hussey as Mary, mother of Jesus. I played the part of the centurion who was present at the Crucifixion, the one whose servant had been healed by Jesus.

 

Much of the film was shot in Tunisia on the Mediterranean during January and February of 1976.  A cold, damp wind continually knocked over floodlights and stung us with desert sand. I was uncomfortable in my thick leather uniform.  My neck ached under a ponderous metal helmet, and I even began to pity those ancient Roman soldiers who were called centurions because they commanded a hundred men.

 

When it came time for my scene during the crucifixion, the weather was chill and gray.  The camera was to be focused on me at the foot of the cross, and so it was not necessary for Robert Powell, the actor who portrayed Jesus, to be there.  Instead, Zeffirelli put a chalk mark on a piece of scenery beside the cameraman. "I want you to look up at the mark," he told me, "as if you were looking at Jesus."

 

"Okay," I said, moving into position and looking up at the mark as instructed.

"Ready?"

 

I hesitated.  Somehow, I wasn't ready.  I was uneasy.

 

"Do you think it would be possible for somebody to read from the Bible the words Jesus said as He hung on the cross?"  I asked.

 

I knew the words well from the days of my childhood in an Italian-American family in Connecticut, and I'd read them in preparation for the film.  Even so, I wanted to hear them now.

 

"I will do it myself," Zeffirelli said.  He found a Bible, opened it to the Book of Luke, and signaled for the camera to start rolling. As Zeffirelli began reading Christ's words aloud, I stared up at that chalk mark, thinking what might have gone through the centurion's mind.

That poor man up there, I thought.  I met him when He healed my servant, who is like a son to me.  Jesus says He is the Son of God, an unfortunate claim during these perilous times.  But I know He is innocent of any crime.

 

"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."  The voice was Zeffirelli’s, but the words burned into me -- the words of Jesus (Luke 23:34-46).

 

Forgive me, Father, for even being here, was the centurion's prayer that formed in my thoughts.  I am so ashamed, so ashamed.

 

"Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise," said Jesus to the thief hanging next to him.

 

If Jesus can forgive that criminal, then He will forgive me, I thought.  I will lay down my sword and retire to my little farm outside of Rome.

 

Then it happened.

 

As I stared upward, instead of the chalk mark, I suddenly saw the face of Jesus Christ, lifelike and clear. It was not the features of Robert Powell I was used to seeing, but the most beautiful, gentle visage I have ever known. Pain-seared, sweat-stained, with blood flowing down from thorns pressed deep, His face was still filled with compassion.  He looked down at me through tragic, sorrowful eyes with an expression of love beyond description.

 

Then His cry rose against the desert wind.  Not the voice of Zeffirelli, reading from the Bible, But the voice of Jesus Himself: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."

 

In awe, I watched Jesus' head slump to one side.  I knew He was dead. A terrible grief welled within me, and completely oblivious of the camera, I started sobbing uncontrollably.

"Cut!" yelled Zeffirelli.   Oliva Husey and Anne Bancroft were crying too. I wiped my eyes and looked up again to where I had seen Jesus.  He was gone.

 

Whether I saw a vision of Jesus that windswept day or whether it was only something in my mind, I do not know.  It doesn't matter. For I do know that it was a profound spiritual experience and that I have not been quite the same person since.  I believe that I take my faith more seriously. I like to think that I'm more forgiving than I used to be. As that centurion learned two thousand years ago, I too have found that you simply cannot come close to Jesus without being changed.”

 

I’ll Never Fly

(As remembered by Bob Strock)

 

I do not remember the time period, whether it was WWII or perhaps Vietnam; however, an evangelist we met had been a combat pilot and he relayed this story to us during a message. While on a mission, this pilot’s plane was damaged severely and most of one of the wings had been blown off. The pilot, knowing he was doomed prayed, God, send one of your angels and as he prayed, the plane leveled off; he looked out where the wing had been, and an angel supported the plane all the way home and he landed safely.

 

Needless to say, most did not believe his story though they could not explain how the plane stayed airborne lacking a wing. As an evangelist, he enjoyed sharing this testimony of how God rescued him as an opening to his messages. One time he shared the story with his dad who had never been in a plane. His dad responded, “you will never get me in one of those planes unless I have a giant parachute strapped to my back. His dad never did fly.

 

While doing a several night series on the east coast, he got word that his father had become very ill and was not expected to recover. He went to the pastor who was sponsoring his meetings and explained the situation and the pastor told leave – we will continue these meetings later when you are able to return.

 

Sadly, by the time he got to his dad it was too late; his dad passed away with the son unsure of his own father’s salvation. After burying his dad and taking care of the personal things he called the pastor he had left in a lurch. While talking with him the pastor inquired how he was doing, and he explained fairly well but was frustrated that he was unsure of his dad’s salvation.

 

The pastor told him he had experienced a strange vision the night the evangelist left to be with his dad. He said ‘I don’t understand it, but it might mean something to you. I saw two angels flying a man to heaven; then he added the weird thing was the man had a large parachute on his back.’ Tears came to the evangelist’s eyes because he had never shared his father’s parachute comment with anyone but was now confident his dad had been saved.

 

Floating Axe Head - 2 Kings 6: 1-6

 

“And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. 2 Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.”

 

So he answered, “Go.”

 

3 Then one said, “Please consent to go with your servants.”

 

And he answered, “I will go.” 4 So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. 5 But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.”

 

6 So the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. 7 Therefore he said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out his hand and took it.”

 

What an incredible testimony this man had when he retired that evening and every day thereafter. God helped him out of a serious dilemma by orchestrating a miracle through Elisha.

 

Angels on Guard

(From Angels, Gods Secret Agents, by Billy Graham)

 

“The Reverend John G Paton, pioneer missionary in the New Hebrides Islands, told a thrilling story involving the protective care of angels. Hostile natives surrounded his mission headquarters one night, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them. John Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came, they were amazed to see that, unaccountably, the attackers had left. They thanked God for delivering them.

 

A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Jesus Christ, and Mr. Paton , remembering what happened, asked the chief what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men you had with you there?” The missionary answered, “There were no men there; just my wife and I.” The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard—hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands. They seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack. Only then did Mr. Paton realize that God had sent His angels to protect them. The chief agreed that there was no other explanation.”

 

Called to the Mission Field

(As remembered by Bob Strock)

 

I spent many years working in the telecom field and during that time met many wonderful people. One young man was an technician who was at the top of his game when he felt God calling him to the Mission Field. Before I tell you his story, let me preface it by saying, sometimes we miss God; however, He never lets us down.

 

This young man was single and though he belonged to a main stream denomination, he decided to do the mission call outside of his denomination. He felt called to India and made a contact there who was looking for young people to help in their mission’s work. He sold what he owned and bought a ticket that cost most of his money and flew to India.

 

Needless to say, he was excited about the venture and surprisingly calm. When he arrived in India, he sought out the ministry he planned to work for. When he entered their headquarters building a powerful lust came over him and he was admonished by the Holy Spirit to leave. At first he discounted the feelings but as they began to talk with him about his job he stopped them and asked who they were. At this point he began to realize the name they called themselves was not actually their real identity.

 

They told him they were actually The Children of God. Fortunately, he was familiar with this and knew it was a sex cult that had been run out of the US and Great Britain. He excused himself and left.

 

Now he was nervous. He spent almost everything he had on the plane ticket to hell and had no way to go home. He was wandering around, praying yet concerned, when a man stopped him. He asked are you an American? He responded yes and the man asked what he was doing in India. The young man poured out his heart how he had missed God and come to India having been duped by a cult. The man knew of the cult and asked him why he left. He explained he was a Christian and could not work for an organization like that.

 

The man looked him in the eyes and said what are you going to do? He told him, I missed God but hope He will help me out. The man then introduced himself as the head of a missions work for the very denomination the young man belonged. He then said, it looks like we both have a problem. My #2 guy had an emergency back in the US and just went home indefinitely. How would you like to fill this vacancy?

 

Many years later the young man returned to Florida and as a part of his now permanent position in missions would use the story as part of his speaking to raise funds for his mission field (itineration).

 

The E.M.T.

(re-told by Bob Strock)

 

My wife and I were regularly attending revival services at Carpenter’s Home Church in Lakeland Florida. During these services countless thousands were being touched by God and taking their experiences back to their homes and work places and practicing what they learned.

 

On one particular night, an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) relayed her testimony of an event that happened the night before. She started out by explaining she had been blessed by the services and knew there was more she could do. She never imagined though, how soon God would expect her to be His vessel.

 

There had been a terrible accident on Interstate 4 resulting in several people being injured seriously. Her ambulance arrived late to the accident scene and she was directed to check out an upside down and twisted vehicle with a man stuck inside. She did her best to crawl into the unstable vehicle to try and reach the victim. She saw pools of blood and pieces of flesh and bone inside the car but could not see any survivors. She called out and a weak voice responded.

 

Although she could still not see the person, she knew it was a man and he was hurt and very possibly dying. As she spoke to him, she could do nothing but offer verbal consolation. She could not provide first aid or other medical treatment, so she stayed inside the vehicle and talked with him.

 

She did not know what to talk about, so she began to share with him the incredible revival services she was attending and how they were being run by Rodney Howard Brown, a South African Evangelist who had come to America. She told him how the people were being blessed and how so many miracles were taking place. It was then she felt led by the Holy Spirit to ask if she could pray with him.

 

The man accepted the offer and somehow, he and she were able to make physical contact. Before she prayed, she asked if he was saved and he said know. She explained how salvation was a relationship with Jesus Christ and offered eternal life with Him.

Though he was weak, he acknowledged it was something he needed and wanted so she prayed with him and led him to Jesus. But she was not through, she began to pray for him to be healed and as she finished the prayer, the fireman arrived at this vehicle with jaws of life. They were amazed the man was still alive and helped the EMT out of the vehicle so they could try and free the man.

 

The car was so severely damaged they had a difficult time cutting it apart and like the EMT were surprised the man was still alive with that much blood in the roof of the car. They carefully cut away pieces and parts of the car until they finally saw the man and were able then to reach him and free him. When they removed him from the car he stood up without a scratch or bruise on him.

 

Because of the blood and so forth, they asked how many more were in the car with him and he answered he was alone. He gave a hug to the EMT and they walked to her vehicle sharing what they felt as they prayed.

 

Jesus Heals the Blind Man - John 9:1-11

 

1 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

 

3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. 4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

 

6 When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. 7 And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.

 

8 Therefore the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, “Is not this he who sat and begged?”

 

9 Some said, “This is he.” Others said, “He is like him.”

He said, “I am he.”

 

10 Therefore they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”

 

11 He answered and said, “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.”

 

The Death of a Child

 

My wife and I tried for years to have a child and finally we received the news she was pregnant with what would turn out to be a boy. Sadly, in her seventh month, the child died and while we never really got over that, God blessed us with an incredible daughter a year + later.

I do not know why we had to go through this experience. It was difficult and hard to comprehend; however, God has used us to help others suffering through tough decisions because of the experience.

 

One such time was with a young man who worked for me. His wife was pregnant, and their son was missing a brain stem which meant if he lived through the pregnancy, he would die shortly after birth. Many medical and other people were encouraging them to abort the baby and knowing my story, he came to me for guidance.

 

I told him though our son was a still birth, Mary and I were able to hold our son for a short time, something I do not think was planned. I told him how important that was to us to help us through the grieving process; Mary met with his wife and shared a similar story.

 

He and his wife decided to go full term. After the baby was born, he lived only a few minutes, but the parents were so glad they had that time with their son. Later they found out that the complications of the pregnancy were such that had she aborted the child, she would probably never have another. They now have several sons, most of whom are serving in the armed forces.

 

Just like our, your story will change people’s lives.

 

Conclusion

 

When asked to give their testimony, many people immediately reflect back on their salvation experience. While this is truly an incredible testimony, if for no other reason salvation is the greatest miracle every Christian will receive, so you may share this story often. However, before sharing it or any other, ask God, what story am I to share at this moment. You may be surprised at what He brings back to your memory and even more surprised when/if you see how He uses it.

 

In the previous paragraph I said, “when/if you see how He uses it.” I did this to ensure you know that you may not always witness the positive effects of your story. You might find out immediately or somewhere down the road, or maybe never know. Just keep in mind, this is not important; what is important is you shared what God wanted, not you. The rest is between Him and the person/group with whom you shared it.

 

So, you have read a few peoples stories – now, what is yours? Whether it was an event of healing, financial turnaround, or some other life changing event, it is a part of who you are. You can use that to help others to understand how Jesus is alive and willing to help us through the most difficult of situations.

 

Your story may be something as simple as finding your keys or as traumatic as the death of a loved one. However, it is all a part of who you are, and God is embedded in each part of the story that makes you who you are. When directed by God, don’t be timid about sharing your story because you may be the perfect person God has in mind to make a difference in someone else’s life.  

 

Many people have come close to suicide and God sent a certain person to them at just the right time. Some shared stories of overcoming their own attempt to end their life while others shared stories of pressing through in spite of their circumstances. Many of these people with simple stories saved a life the day they obeyed God and shared; some had no idea the person they were talking to was suicidal. What matters is one person’s story saved another’s life.

 

Never forget, when you are called to share your story, share the story God puts on your heart and just know, it will change someone for the better.

 

Pun-ishment – Spice of Life

 

Basil was a great guy who loved to spice things up. One day he was planning a caper with his papa Rika but they ran out of thyme. You see his papa had been a scientist at Duracell but was fired. He and Basil revolted, by building a bomb from spices and igniting it with a battery.  It didn’t work but the police still arrested them for a salt and battery.

 

While they were locked up, Basil’s wife Rosemary, got a job working in the mailroom of Acme Spices; a poor employee at best, she was always late delivering packages. Therefore, the HR director, who was a seasoned veteran, called the mail departments secretary, demanding to speak to the parcel sage about Rosemary and time.

 

Eventually, Rosemary got her act together and was peppered with complements; they even increased her celery. The work was hard, and she frequently came home beet and would turnup the covers endive into bed.

 

Basil finally got out of jail cloved in an orange jump suit. He was somewhat cinnamon-tal and brought Rosemary some lavender. She appreciated it but reminded him there was no present like the thyme.

 

He tried to meet with his old friend Mr. Peanut but sadly Peanut was asalted. He arrived home around Christmas and wished his neighbors seasoned greetings. Then he told his teenage son to salt the front walk but only got an icy stare. Basil was a huge football fan, so he bought seasoned tickets.

 

He started a garden which did well and sold his goods online and shipped them parsley post. He still had a lot of debt and the courts garnished his wages. Later he filed bankruptcy and the judge took his caraway, a pun-ish-mint a long thyme cumin.

 

La Fin

 

 

 

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