1-6-2013 Congregational Testimony Time

The snow is beginning to melt all around us, which is kinda sad for those of us who really like it to snow in the wintertime.  Then again, we had a white-ish Christmas and a white New Year, so perhaps I shouldn’t complain too loudly (and none of you would want to hear it, even if I did).

The new year has already been somewhat colorful, what with half of our church family down with some sort of cold or flu, or off traveling, or both.  But more importantly, we are having to suddenly shift things around with our Youth Group, since our Youth Director is now going to be moving up to Jesus People USA in Chicago in mid-January.  As it turns out, God had already been preparing our excellent Youth Group Leadership Team to step up and take over the various roles that this change vacated, so the shift will be far smoother and positive than it could have been, but we’d still appreciate your prayers for our FCC youth and the leaders who serve them over the next couple of months--as well as prayers for Kimberly Kirtz, as she moves on to her next ministry in Chicago.

In our Adult Sunday School class, we began the new year with a quick overview of the “Dark Ages” (which doesn’t sound like it would be a lot of fun, but it really kinda was).  Personally, I think that it’s usually best to avoid value-laden labels of historical periods (just who gets to decide which eras are “dark” and which are “enlightened” anyway?), so we’re going to be starting to talk about the “Middle Ages” (not “Dark Ages”) this coming week.  This would be a great time to jump on board, if you haven’t joined us for the class yet.

Our first worship service of the new year was a sweet one--largely because no one had to sit through listening to me preach with my cold and scratchy, froggy throat.  Instead, we were able to have the opportunity to share testimonies with one another about what God has been doing in our lives--particularly over the past year.  As these things usually go, it started off kinda slowly, but then people started racing each other to get to the pulpit to share how God’s been working in their lives. 

(You think I’m kidding, don’t you?  Just ask Kimberly and Sara which one of them made it up there first...)

But if there were a theme for this group of testimonies, it was that God uses even the hard times in our lives to sculpt, mold, and temper us into the people He needs us to be--and to get us to the places in life that He needs us to be at.  We had started 2012 off with a sermon series on why a loving God allows--or even generates--hard things in people’s lives, and it has only been in retrospect, looking back at all of the things that people have dealt with throughout this past year, that we’re beginning to really understand why God was preparing us like that. 

But the crucial thing wasn’t that people got through those hard times, but rather that, when all was said and done, they are able to praise God about those hard times. 

So what have you gone through in 2012?  And what are you going through right now? 

Where has God’s hand been in all of that?  How has He been trying to sculpt and grow you?

And how can you use that hard time as a testimony to tell other people about God’s work in your life?