New Beginnings

Every new year feels like a blank sheet of paper without a scratch made on it yet. It’s beautiful, white, and clean but made to be written on. And we’re made to write it. The pages of the last three years are laid out next to me on my desk. I can’t help a long look of awe. Every inch of each one is covered in words, big and small (depending on how confident I was when I wrote them).  Some parts are smudgy and certainly not as pretty as I’d like them to be. Others are written with the flourish and flamboyant style of a girl that’s used to making a big impression in bright red. The names of a dozen countries and thousands of people are written there. Some people’s names are written in gold, like the treasure they became to me then. Every page before these three are less remarkable somehow; it’s as if life suddenly became more alive and full of the sweet presence of God’s glory these last three years. I wouldn’t change a thing.

I am teaching a discipleship class for teenagers and twenty-somethings called Transformation; we’re talking about a concept a lot of people struggle to understand. When we use the term, testimony, in a court case, it’s clear to us that the idea is for a witness to simply give an account of what he or she experienced, defending it sometimes when cross-examined by the prosecuting attorney. However, when we use testimony in the context of a believer in Jesus Christ, the concept suddenly becomes confusing and ambiguous to us. Why? Do we remember how Jesus saved us? Are we afraid? Our eyes were opened to a life-changing reality and we can’t go back to life as usual, crawling back under the covers as if we’d never gotten up that morning. If we do, it’s even more dangerous for us than if we were to stand up and give testimony to the truth. It’s common knowledge that the prosecutor is going to cross-examine us.  He always does.  Are we scared of being questioned or hunted down by the bad guys for squealing?

As a class, we’re writing it all out. Through tears and cries of “Oh God wow!” we’re putting on paper the stories of what Jesus did to bring us to life, picking Bible verses that meant the most to us. It’s scary for some. One class member has already been beaten for talking about Jesus, one has been ridiculed by his family, another one is now the brunt of nasty comments from former friends who don’t understand the changes he’s making. Yet another still endures sex jokes and pressure to go back to her old life and fulfill physical cravings. It’s obvious, these guys have already been experiencing some cross-examination; the prosecuting attorney wears the face of people they know intimately and he knows a great deal too much about their past record. It’s a battle every morning to wake up anew like we did the first day we experienced new life. But Jesus said in Luke 21:12-19

“before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.”

Every person’s testimony has four parts: 1. Past life – what we looked like a few years ago, the story of our long-gone history B.C. (Before Christ).

2. Conviction – when the stirring of wakefulness started and we began to feel like something was missing or needed to change

3. Salvation – that pin-prick of light that suddenly burst into open sunlight on our face when we realized that Jesus was our savior

4. Transformation – the changes that have been taking place in our life now that we’ve received Jesus (our new outlook with Him at the center)

Isaiah 8 says “Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” Our testimony of Jesus Christ isn’t mystic mumbo-jumbo.  Listen intently to what we say and watch our lives when we say Jesus changed us.  If we aren’t lining every page of our lives with God’s word, we’re still just sleep talking.

In many ways, glancing back over our shoulder at what was gives us the opportunity to remember who we are. When you receive Jesus, it’s the most powerful, life-altering experience anyone can have. It’s your experience! Why wouldn’t you want to tell everyone about it and write it on every inch of your clean page this year?

As John 21:24 said, “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.”

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About Brittany

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." - Einstein
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3 Responses to New Beginnings

  1. Hoang-An Le says:

    Dear Brittany,

    As I was reading this blog post, I felt like every word that you wrote and every Scripture verse that you posted opened up a bright new perspective of Jesus Christ in me. Like you said, some people may think that they are saved, but are they really? I was one of these people. Since the day when I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I already took to the notion that once I inherited his free gift of salvation, then I was good to go! This was where I realized my downfall. There was more than just simply getting saved! I had to ponder on this question: “How must my life reflect on God’s mercy and magnify His holy name after I have reached the point of salvation?” Considering this idea, I have learned that by depending on God’s grace and strength, I must grow spiritually in Him and daily walk in my faith. Also, I have to show signs of salvation by resigning myself and my rights to Jesus and submitting to the divine power of the Holy Spirit. Besides, I must exhibit the fruits of the Spirit and clothe myself with the armor of God each day. I know that it is hard to apply, but if I sincerely rely on the power of God, then He will gradually transform me into a young woman who is pure in His sight.

    I truly believe that God has been convicting me on many essential truths that I have been missing out. Each time I peruse God’s Word, I could feel the Holy Spirit convicting me of my transgressions and my lackadaisical commitment to grow in His Word. Even when I am in youth group, I can sense the presence of God in the youth room! I am struck by the infinite power of God, which has reached into the hearts and souls of each and every teen. In times like these, I feel as if God is getting my attention!

    Two major goals that I highlighted for the New Year included being in a proper standing with God (producing the fruit of godliness and righteousness) and having a perfect opportunity to witness to my unsaved friends at school or in my neighborhood. With God’s help, I want my focus to solely be on God and living for His glory, not on temporal, secular matters. Lately, I have asked God to rid me of a filthy, imperfect heart which is full of wicked thoughts and motives and to replace it with a pure and clean one.

    I was especially impressed with the metaphor you used at the beginning of your post. I really liked how you clarified the comparison between a new year and a blank sheet of paper as this analogy relates to reality. For those who are spiritually mature in Christ, they tend to put into writing the blessings and provisions bestowed upon them by their Heavenly Father. In detail, they describe the ways in which the Holy Spirit has changed them and allowed for them to know Jesus better than each previous year. However, some people are already engaged in the prospects of the New Year and have such high hopes about changing themselves for THEIR benefit instead of taking the time to look back at the good things that God has done for them in the past. For instance, they may try to go on a diet in order to appear skinny and to have a reputation for being good-looking.

    I also agree that receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior is a very incredible, life-changing experience. Again, may God bless you for your willingness to lay a positive impact on the lives of Christians and lost souls in this world! Your blogs are very inspiring, as always!

    In Christ,
    Hoang-An

  2. Brittany says:

    Hoang-An, God is doing great things in you. I love hearing that you’re ready to keep it real and tell everyone what Jesus means to you. He’ll definitely be stretching you this year. Let me know how it goes. 🙂

    • Hoang-An Le says:

      Dear Brittany,

      Thank you for the sweet encouragement! I truly hope that God will continue to use his people, especially you and your family, to be a powerful witness who shines a light in the lives of other people. Sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and emulating His good character are among my greatest passions in this life, aside from the other material possessions that I treasure. I have always asked God to help me die to myself (this includes my carnal desires, interests, and evil motivations) and to start living for Jesus’ eternal glory. During the past month, I have been asked to play the piano for the Christmas Cantata we had at our church, and the choir director has asked both my brother and me to play music for the choir to sing along! I am also playing a key role in my church as I regularly play the piano for the children’s choir, the youth group worship, and Sunday evening services.

      Realizing that I can do a lot of things to serve the church, I start to feel a pang of high self-respect and take the matter in my own hands. Understanding that God will not use the proud to accomplish His work, I fervently pray and ask God to help me to rebuke all of the prideful thoughts and feelings that enter into my mind. According to James 4:6, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore, I have learned that whatever God calls me to do, I need to readily accept His will for my life and humbly fulfill his purpose. Since your forum is always open to a lot of communication and deep discussion, I will be happy to share more about my thoughts and convictions with you.

      In Christ,
      Hoang-An

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