How important to others was your giving your heart to Jesus? How important were the events leading up to that moment? How important are the events in your life that shaped your walk? How do you witness? Preaching on a soapbox? Or living your life as a witness to others and letting the life you live show them that you’re different from the world?
1 PETER 3:15-17
In Psalms 119:46-47 it says to speak your testimonies to the kings and delight in what God has showed and taught you. 1 Peter 3:15-17 says to be ready to give an answer to every man that asks for the reason of the hope in you with meekness and fear. In Acts 26, we see the example of this when Paul tells King Agrippa of his conversion to Christ, giving details of what he was like before, his conversion while on the road to Damascus, and things that happened after his conversion; to the point King Agrippa even says that Paul almost persuaded him to be a Christian.
Our life before, during and after our conversion (as personal as it is), is meant to be shared with others. There are people out there whose heart can only be moved by our individual testimony. There are people that only we, as individuals can touch. You can touch people with your story I couldn’t begin to reach and vice-versa. Our individual lives matter and carry a lot of weight in the lives of others.
Having said all that today I believe Jesus would have me share my testimony with you….
I was born January 9th, 1959 in Barnwell, South Carolina. I was the 4th child to a very young woman who wasn’t married and really had no way to support me. She lived next door to a couple from West Virginia who had moved to Barnwell because the husband got a job building the nuclear power plant. They had become friends and she found out the couple couldn’t have kids and had been married about 10 years. When she found out she was pregnant with me the couple had moved back to West Virginia because the construction on the plant had finished. When I was born, she remembered how bad they had wanted a child and she had kept in touch through letters, so she knew about where they lived. A week after I was born she took the trip to West Virginia, found them, and asked if they wanted to adopt me. They were shocked and ecstatic, and immediately began the process and a couple weeks later I was the new son of Gene and Ruby Kinser who had been trying to have a baby for nearly 10 years, and now they had a newborn. A side note to that was shortly after the adoption my new mom found out she was pregnant with my brother David who was born October 20th, 1959. We always had fun with that growing up since he was born a little over 9 months after I was born. Then a few years later my mom had my brother Mark, so I guess my arrival was the miracle mom and dad needed.
Growing up in church was very important to mom and dad and we always went, even though they didn’t become Christians until their early 70s. Having grown up in church I fell into belief I was ok because I go to church and I’m a good kid so I’m ok, a trap a lot of us fall into by the way. When you don’t study, pray, and seek God it is easy to think this. I followed this growing up and into high school, but as I graduated, I began to get into things that were wrong, but I would justify it saying it’s no big deal or others are doing it and they’re pretty good and go to church so I’m alright.
Then in the fall of 1978 all of us kids in Quick would play football and the old elementary school. This was an ongoing tradition for years. A friend started playing football with us. He hadn’t played for a couple years, he was a couple of years older than me and had been pretty wild in school, but we had heard he had started going to church and hadn’t seen much of him till now. We played through the fall and I realized that there was something different about him compared to what he was. Then on a Saturday, November 11th after playing, as everyone was leaving, he stopped and invited us to come hear him preach a revival out Dutch Ridge. After he left, most said they weren’t going to go. But my brother David, I, and another friend starting talking and decided he had taken time out of his schedule to play football, plus he was a pretty good guy, absolutely hilarious to be around. Plus he never tried to push “church” on us when he was there, so we decided to go Monday night November 13th. When we arrived, we made sure we sat on the back row. The plan was to leave quickly as soon as he was done. He started to preach—David and Goliath—and to this day it is still my favorite no matter who teaches or preaches it. The sermon hit something in me and at the end they had everyone stand and made an altar call and all I remember was standing grabbing the back of the pew and the next thing I remember was being at the altar, with my friend and brother. To those that have given their life to Him understand the relief, love, and feeling of being free that you experience at that moment.
I decided that I would start going to the home meetings he and others had started, and God began to teach me. Now the group believed in the workings of the Gifts of The Spirit, as do I, and so my Christian experience was witnessed to Pentecostal and Apostolic teachings. Let me say I have seen the Gifts work beautifully, but more often than not, I’ve seen them abused, misused, and even faked. People trying to show off how “spiritual” they are by “showing off the gifts”. This bothered me immensely, and I began to look for answers. The only answer I got was 1 Corinthians 13, the definition of true love. It says not only what love is but also what it is not, so I have ever since used this as a measuring stick on actions, teachings, preachings, and using gifts. If it is not being done out of love it means nothing. You can preach the most incredible sermon where people get saved, but if it’s not out of love, it means nothing. You can have the soundest of doctrine, but if it’s not out of love it means nothing. You speak in tongues heal people, prophesy—it means nothing. When I say love, I’m using the biblical definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13, not the world’s definition of love which is skewed with self-interest.
I had a friend who was wild and involved in a lot of things that was destroying him, but he was seeking. He attended a certain Apostolic Church. The preacher preached a heck of a sermon, he was so moved he went to the altar. It was real—he was giving his life over to Jesus. A man that never cried was crying like a baby and was happy about it—the look of relief was evident. Afterwards, I later learned that the preacher took my friend to the side and told him “everything you just did and felt means nothing, you’ll go to hell just the same if you don’t get the Holy Ghost and speak in tongues.” My friend was crushed. Now you tell me: where was the love at that moment? Where was 1 Corinthians 13? About a week or so later my friend was killed, I have no idea where he stood when he died, but I certainly don’t want to have to answer for what that preacher will have to answer to if he had given up.
Everything that is done in the Name of the Lord has to be out of love, true love. The only definition of true love I can find is 1 Corinthians 13; this is my measuring stick.
I have had some incredible and deeply personal moments with Jesus in my walk and I’ll share three. First, was when I heard His voice for the first time. My friend who preached the night I was saved and his wife had set up a way for me to meet a certain girl. When I had arrived, they introduced us. When I saw her, there was a voice in my ear, plain as day. I even turned to see who it was, but no one was there. The voice said: “there she is, take care of her.” And for the last 37 years, I’ve done my best to take care of my wife, Jody.
The second time was on December 3rd, 1985 at 11:35PM. I was working at the post office. I was taking mail to an area that was worked on day shift so no one was there, you had to weigh mail in because weight told you how much was worked and the date and time it was weighed told you what order to work the mail. As I was on the scale weighing the mail I felt a hand on my shoulder. I even felt the warmth of a breath on my ear as I voice said “your dad is with me now, everything’s going to be alright.” I was visibly shaken, because when I got back to my work station everyone kept asking me if I was alright. There were no cell phones in 1985, so when I got home at 1 AM Jody was waiting at the door, telling me dad had had a heart attack and was at the hospital, we rushed there but he was already dead. My mom said he went to bed early because he wasn’t feeling well and thought he had the flu. It was his birthday. Mom said a little while later he got up complaining of his chest hurting, my mom started to call for an ambulance when she heard the alarm clock hit the floor then my dad hit the floor. She stayed with him until the paramedics arrived (they lived in the country so the best you could hope for was 25 minutes for an ambulance). They took him on to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Afterwards, I took my mom back home and I went in the bedroom and picked up the clock. It was broken at the exact time he dropped it—11:35PM! [Try and tell me there isn’t a God; try and tell me He isn’t real; try and convince me. It won’t happen.]
The third time I heard His voice was when I met a certain bald-headed Sunday school teacher for the first time. He said “This is ministry I want you involved in” and the rest is history.
Never assume you are to unimportant to reach someone. Your very life is the only preaching someone will hear, whether it’s at work, school, or simply playing a pick up football game, it can have deep ramifications in some one’s life. Never assume your walk or testimony can’t make a difference for anybody. It can and will, even if you never know the impact.
Also, know it all must be done in love. Without it being done in a truly Godly love defined in 1 Corinthians 13, it will mean nothing. Love is always the key.
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