stre-N-gth Zone

s-t-r-e-N-gth Zone

To notarize means to certify or attest to; to authenticate. To operate effectively in your God-designed STRENGTH ZONE, it is very necessary to Notarize your trust in Jesus. In Matthew 10:32 it states, ” So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.” The best way I can share what it means to notarize your faith is to share a recent testimony of a dear friend. Her faith is authentic and real! Enjoy………….

I just love, love, love to hear people’s personal testimonies!! The following testimony is one I have had much joy hearing and writing about!!! There are so many lessons for everyone in this personal story and a very valuable lesson that I have learned personally.

Allow me to share.

A little background information: At least 14 years ago I had the blessing of getting to know Valerie Bryan! Valerie and I had met years before we had kids, but 14 years ago we both found ourselves on the golf course following our children who were playing competitive golf. Valerie and I have much in common. Both our husbands were college athletes at the University of South Carolina, Bill played football and George, Valerie’s husband, played golf. We both have two sons and a daughter with the same birth order and around the same ages. They all have played competitive golf and they all earned college scholarships to play golf, not to mention our kids are really, really good friends. I have known and shared much of the Front 9 of my life with the whole Bryan family and I value it more than words can express.

Recently while home for Christmas, I was motivated to get together with Valerie, her daughter, Mary Chandler, and our daughter, Collins. It was just about 2 weeks ago, December first to be exact, that Valerie posted a picture of her and George’s baptism on Facebook. I so wanted to hear her personal account of coming to know Jesus as her personal Savior.

“It is so weird to know that I have walked around most of my life and thought I was a Christian, only to realize that I was not,” were the first words out of Valerie’s mouth at lunch. She continued to share that this past summer on August 2, 2013, she surrendered her life to Christ while volunteering on a youth trip for her church. Just two years ago, she had been influenced by her middle child, Wesley, to attend his church, New Spring. Valerie agreed to go and told me she learned more about Jesus and what it meant to be a Christian in those two services than she had in all the years she spent growing up in church.

She remembers being in the second service at New Spring and hearing the pastor ask everyone who thought they were a Christian to reflect on the time in their life when they invited Christ into their life. Valerie shared that she thought and thought and tried to manufacture a time. She said she really didn’t remember one but she wanted to be baptized and join the church so she created one. At that point, after her baptism two years ago, she said she didn’t feel any different.

Looking back she said she realized what she had done. It was more about what others would think of her and how they saw her than an actual “salvation experience”. In other words, it was about what she called being a “cosmetic Christian”, quoting her pastor, Perry Noble. She did it for looks and the opinions of others. It wasn’t real! Over the two years she continued to go to church and watched Wesley, her middle son, change. Then she began to see change in George, her oldest son, and her daughter.

This past summer Valerie volunteered to go on the Summer Youth Retreat, The Gauntlet, at Daytona Beach, Florida, with her church. Side note: None of her children went; she volunteered and went by herself. While at the retreat, she witnessed firsthand lives being changed. She heard testimonies and listened to the powerful messages. On the bus ride home she realized her faith wasn’t authentic; she needed to “notarize” her faith.

She looked down at her open Bible and read what she thought was the scripture in Titus, the passage the group on the bus was studying. In Titus 3:4-5 it says, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, but the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” Somehow her Bible had been turned to the book of Philemon and she read chapter 1, verse 6, “and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”

As she looked down and read this verse, she not only surrendered her life to Christ, but felt compelled to speak, which is very much out of her comfort zone. She walked to the front of the bus, took the microphone and gave her testimony. That moment of “notarizing” her faith made it authentic. She felt different. She later learned that as she was sharing a girl sitting on the bus who had been very involved in youth group realized she had not invited Jesus into her heart. Upon hearing Valerie’s testimony, she gave her life to Christ!!!

Now, let’s reflect on the lessons to be learned:

I want to start with my own personal lesson and conviction. I have been friends with Valerie and spent countless hours with her and her family. I never took our conversation to the point of knowing more about what she believed about Jesus and her relationship with Him. Valerie is a very sweet, kind, and loving person and I have loved her for years, and her family. But I had to examine…….my love for Jesus and my love for them. I don’t ever want someone I care about and know personally to ever ask me, “If you love Jesus, and if you care about me, why didn’t you share????” Lesson……… I am going to be intentional about sharing my faith in Jesus especially with those I know. Loving people enough to share the most important thing in life……JESUS. A redefining moment for me as I head into the Back 9.

Second lesson: The power of one! Wesley’s road to knowing Christ started with a friend in high school who had a personal relationship with Jesus and never wavered from his faith, Josh Tweoto. Wesley’s then girlfriend, now wife, Elizabeth, loved Jesus and is who he credits for leading him to a faith and personal relationship with Jesus. Wesley also gives credit to God for providing a Christian team mate at USC, Clint Tollesian, and for his mentor, Jack Easterby. Both challenged him and brought him along in his walk of faith. From that, Wesley extended an invitation to his brother, then his sister and then his mom to come to his church. Gradually they all came, even George Senior. Today they all have a personal relationship with Jesus. Just reflect on the power of a testimony in the life of one and how it affects others. Mary Chandler even shared at lunch that she had led her team mate from Sweden to Christ.

I love God’s economy!!

Third Lesson: Share Christ! Do not be ashamed. You never know how the life you are living and the reason for your hope and profound change can impact one person. Wesley’s best friend from Dutch Fork had no clue how big his impact would be down the road. His faithfulness and obedience led to a whole family being changed and then it stretched across the ocean to a girl from Sweden.

I can’t help but repeat the words found in Philemon 1:6, “and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.” Don’t worry so much about what you will say or how you will say it. Trust/ask God to give you the words to share. Share what Jesus means to you. Live out loud.

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