Just this week, the pastor who married Cheryl & I, Bill Elliff, who is now pastoring in Arkansas, shared a testimony about a man who came to their church 4 & 1/2 years ago, looking for a handout. One of their associate pastors ended up talking him, and soon the man, named Gary, found himself on the floor, crying out to God for salvation, with one pastor holding one hand, and another pastor the other. Bill said that Gary “used the only language he knew as he prayed, laced with profanity.” He said, “He’s the only man I know who literally cussed his way into the Kingdom! But God heard him and saved him from to toe.” Gary started coming to church every week, and sat on the front row — usually with 4-5 of his friends from the street that he would bring with him. As you can imagine, Gary had quite a ministry on the street from that time forward.
Bill shared this testimony because Gary passed away this week, at only 63 years old. But Bill and all those who knew Gary are comforted by the testimony he had, and how his life had been changed since the time he was saved.
That is quite a “story” about Gary, and how he came to follow Jesus. But if you are a Christian, you have a “story” too. And it is a story to which you should give some thought and attention. First of all, do you HAVE a “story”, and are you ready to share it with others? And then, do you know if the people you love have a “story” as well?
This morning, I want to introduce an emphasis we are going to be focusing on in the next few weeks here at Pleasant Ridge, called, “This Is My Story.” The title actually comes from the old hymn, “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine … this is my story …”. That hymn talks about how the person knows that they belong to Jesus, and that they are confident in the relationship they have with Him, so they can sing, “This is my story …”. I want us to spend just a few moments this introducing this series, not by focusing on any one scripture, but by thinking about the importance of having a salvation “story”, and how God can use your own “story.” Continue reading