Posts tagged Transformation
The Power of a Testimony {DWITW 365}
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I remember attending several Christian events as a teen. There was always vibrant worship, excellent speakers, calls to action and the sharing of personal testimonies. I remember sitting and listening with rapt attention to the personal testimonies that were shared.  Stories of people who went from party-goer to all out Christ-follower. Stories of people who went from drug addicts to totally sober and clean. Stories of people who were wretchedly sick and God miraculously healed them. Even the story of the Apostle Paul, whose radical testimony declares him transformed from the biggest persecutor of Christians to one of the leaders of the very Church he once persecuted. It seemed like everywhere I looked, I heard radical stories of change and transformation that left me breathless and in awe of the powerful saving grace of Jesus Christ. And, if I’m being honest...these stories also always left me a little deflated. That’s amazing! That’s wonderful! That awe-inspiring! And then...there is me, and my story.

I was saved at the age of 4. I don’t even remember my “conversion experience,” but my Mom told me that I prayed with her. I grew up in a Christian home (as a missionary kid, no less). I had a rough patch in junior high where I was mean to other girls and too interested in other boys (you know, from a distance). Then, throughout high school, I always received awards like “Christian character” or “leader in service.” I then attended a Christian college, where I was involved in Bible Study leadership and any service opportunity I could get my hands on. At this Christian college, I met my Christian husband and we got married at the young age of 21. Obviously, we were virgins at our wedding. Our vows were Christian and our wedding was, too. Basically, I have always been the “perfect” Christian. With a really, really boring testimony. 

Or, so I thought. Until I come across a passage in Ephesians 2. At first glance, I find my thoughts surge with selfishness and a lack of understanding. Surely, this passage doesn’t apply to Christians like me. Dead in my transgressions? What transgressions? An object of wrath? For what? God’s enemy? Yeah, maybe when I was 3 and I wasn’t officially a Christian yet. 

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…
ePHESIANS 2:4-5

And then it all comes to my mind - my testimony has nothing to do with me, namely what I have or haven’t done. It has nothing to do with my list of good deeds, or even bad deeds. It has nothing to do with how drastic the lifestyle change in my life may have been or not been. Instead, it has everything to do with Christ… - Him changing me at my deepest core.

Before the grace and sanctification of God was realized in my life (whether at 4 or 104!), I was dead (Eph 2:1). I was without hope. I was, by my very nature, an object of God’s wrath (Eph 2:3). I deserved NOTHING. My very existence meant that I was separated from God. Apart from God, I followed and would continue to follow the ways of the world (Eph 2:3), and my own evil thoughts and desires (Eph 2:3). Not only was I, by my very existence, an enemy of God, I was also a follower of Satan. It seems hard to picture this in someone who was saved as a young child, but even now, apart from Christ, I am all of those things.

BUT PRAISE GOD...Ephesians 2 goes on to explain to us that through Christ (2:5), I am made alive! Through Christ, I am shown God’s great mercy and given salvation. Through Christ, I can and will stand for the ways of truth. Through Christ I am no longer a slave to Satan, but am a child of God, free to love, serve, and sit with Him.

Now that is a testimony that does not sit in the past, with a one-time conversion experience. That is a testimony that does not just apply to those who had a life-changing, radical transformation. That is a powerful and life-changing testimony that every believer can shout about from the rooftops. That is a testimony that unites every believer, whether their previous lifestyle looks more like the apostle Paul or the missionary kid Suzanne. That is a testimony that instead of pointing to a personal transformation, points to the power of being “in Christ.”

So, sisters, let us be unafraid of sharing our personal testimonies - no matter how radical or “un-radical” they may appear to us to be. Let us share what Christ has saved us from, and what He continues to lead us to - being God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10).

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 Suzanne Hines wants to live in a world where sunflowers bloom in eternal summer, where her children play instead of argue and where her family has an endless budget for travel. When she's not loving her husband, training and teaching her three children, and spreading education on the foster care system, you can find her writing, reading or running outside!

Her favorite Scripture is Romans 12:12 "...be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer..." (NIV)

Purpose in Pruning {Team Journal}

Our team journal was written for you today by our Social Media Manager, Kelly Gwin.

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“What is happening!?”

This is the question I kept asking myself as I began to struggle.

For a long time I was in a season where I felt like I was flourishing -- God had done something new and amazing, and I KNEW that I was done being defeated by my circumstances. But... they’re called “seasons” for a reason, and God is good to never leave us where we are. Even if it’s in a “good” place. No, He desires that we bear fruit for Him, and that can only happen if the branch is regularly pruned -- which is a bummer, because we are the branches, and pruning HURTS! He always wants more for us. John 15:2 says,“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit,” and it was my turn.

New, more difficult circumstances arose for our family, and my old sinful habits started to come right back with them. This new way of life felt unfair and burdensome. Anger and bitterness began to creep in, and I began to feel that abundance slipping away. This showed me that my joy, my peace, my LIFE, must not be coming purely from the Vine because I had none of those things. My circumstances became more difficult, and so did my attitude. Jesus came to bring life in abundance (John 10:10), and let me tell you, I was NOT experiencing that abundance. 

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
— John 15:5

Every inconvenience took over my emotions, and every challenge overcame me. God had brought me out of sinful habits before, and I felt  desperate for Him to rescue me again! I was listening to my word, and seeing my actions, and wondering what in the world had happened! “Where did the abundance go? What happened to the fruit!?” I thought. 

I knew I was totally hopeless without my Savior, but I just found myself sulking in that place. I would say, “God, I can’t do this. I need you to change me. This is too much for me to handle. You’ve done it before, just do it again!” I was practically writhing in anger at the fact that I was having to deal with challenges. I want everything to be easy and convenient. I want to be like Christ without suffering with Him. I want to be holy without the process of refining. I was feeling sorry for myself, sitting in my anger, focusing on the negative. I was speaking death, acting out of my flesh, and seeking my own comfort. I cried out to God constantly, but something very intentional was going on. As I processed with Him in prayer throughout this time, and sought His wisdom in the Scriptures, He helped me to see what was happening. I didn’t want to be pruned, but He showed me that it was time, and it was needed.

And I’m not out of it yet. God has begun to take me through that painful, but necessary process in order that this crooked little branch might bear more fruit, and find LIFE in the Vine. It's been a difficult season full of friction, and cutting, and that feeling of death happening in my flesh as I fight all these little daily battles. And fight is the key word here. I’ve experienced triumph, and catastrophic failure. It's been painful and violent, as pruning is, but I’ve seen His faithfulness in seasons like these a number of times before. I know there is a purpose and a good plan that will result in glory for Him and joy for me, real joy.

I’m continually being encouraged by Him as He confirms His intentions and comforts me with His Word every day. Romans 6 says I’m dead to sin, and alive to God. It says I have the power of the resurrection living in me because of the Holy Spirit. Deuteronomy 30 says this is not too hard for me! I have the ability to choose life over death, and when I do my whole family is blessed! Deeper still into Romans chapter 8, He’s teaching me to SET my mind on the things of the Spirit which IS life and peace! He’s reminding me that, yes, I am sinful and can do nothing without Him (John 15:5) , BUT I’M NOT WITHOUT HIM! 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
— John 10:10

I needed a season to really see the magnitude of my sin. I needed to FEEL my need for Him, but I’ve gotten lost in that, and I forgot that I am a daughter of the KING! I need to be transformed by the renewing of my MIND! (Romans 12:2) My thoughts have been holding ME captive instead of the other way around! (2 Cor. 10:5) I have been carrying burdens that do not belong to me! I CAN obey! I CAN change! I CAN overcome, because of Christ! He came that we may have LIFE and have it ABUNDANTLY (John 10:10)! 

My circumstances haven’t changed, but God, in His goodness, is bringing me into a new season where my circumstances and weaknesses are not going to steal the joy that He died for me to have. I’m trusting the Lord’s good and gracious hand in the pruning. I know God does not intend to leave even a fruit-bearing branch how it is, but He is always after a more abundant harvest for His people. He will “give the increase” when I reach the end of this, and let me tell you, I feel it coming. I’m learning to WALK in accordance with the truth that He is dwelling in me, and will keep sin from having dominion over my life. (Romans 6:14)

Are you in that season right now? Are you seeing a pattern of sin and death in your daily life, when God has made it so clear that He wants to give LIFE!? Don’t waste your struggles. Know that God is very intentional and has a good plan for all of it. Every challenge is an opportunity to practice walking in the Spirit, and He is right there, inside you, to help you. I will tell you right now that even as I write that I can feel the friction in my flesh. I don’t want difficult. But man, I do want to be like Him. So I’m in surrender-mode now, friends. I’m saying, “Cut away, Lord.” Because I want ALL that He has for me. I want the fruit. I want all that abundance, and I know it’s waiting for me when the season changes.


Kelly is a worship leader, treasurer, and all-around multi-tasker at her church, while raising three little girls with her husband. Laughing, time with other women, and a completed to-do list are some of her favorite things outside of her passion for the work and Word of God. If you ask her when Christmas starts, she'll tell you it's before Thanksgiving