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By the Word of Our Testimony

If I asked you to tell me your testimony, could you? To be honest, as an introvert and writer, I would much prefer to type it up for you, but I have the chance to tell it to others this month and I'm reminded of the command in 1 Peter 3:13-16 to always be prepared to give an answer. So this month we're going to talk testimonies, latest reads, and author updates!

February Devotion:

Testimonies are hard. I once interviewed for a position with a ministry, and it required sharing my testimony. After doing so, the interviewer tried to correct and retell it for me. I needed more pizazz, more transformation, more proof.

But I got saved early in life. I don't have a story of dramatic transformation. I was not an addict, thief, or adulterer. I was a decently well-behaved, if a bit selfish, 14-year-old raised in a Christian home. Does that mean Christ's work is lesser in my life? (Hint: no.)

While the dramatic testimonies are wonderful, impressive, and worthy of stage time, why would we discredit a life saved before the ruination of sin? We should celebrate early conversions that set children on a path to become godly adults free from the bondage of sin.

2 Kings 22-23 tells of Josiah, the boy who became king at eight-years-old, and all the good he did because of his faith. He was not less of a believer because he was young, rather he had more time to do more good. His is as worthy a testimony as any.

And perhaps we have the focus a bit wrong in many of our testimonies anyway. Should it be all about me? Or what God has done for me? Stephen's speech in Acts 7 is a great example of a testimony focused on God alone and acknowledging who he is, and who Christ is. You and I were never meant to be the main character. Our testimonies should be a story of God's greatness, not yours or mine.

And his greatness is seen throughout our lives. Not only in the moment we meet him. Anyone who has been a Christian long enough knows the Christian walk is not a steady gain. It's hills and valleys, plateaus, the occasional mud pit, and some glorious sunrises. And many times, those stories are exactly what others need to hear. To know that accepting Christ is only the beginning. To know that it is okay to struggle afterwards, to stumble and fall. To know that God will pick us up again. To know it gets even better as we draw closer to him.

So personally, I don't focus as much on the point of conversion, I focus on what's happened since then. Not only did God save me from sin before I was deeply lost in it, he has walked me through rejection, loneliness, anxiety, despair, and more. I have seen his hand move in my life, his guidance change my course. His word has challenged and changed my thoughts and behaviors. All of those moments become my testimony.

And it matters. God commands his people repeatedly to recall these moments we have seen him move. So that we do not become like the Israelites wandering in the desert, turning away at every point and asking "what God?" We do not want to forget. We will overcome by the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11).

If you were called up to a stage today to tell your testimony, would you be ready? (See 1 Peter 3:13-16.) If not, perhaps take a moment and consider the work God has done in your life. (There are times when this is difficult to see. If you are in one of those times, I encourage you go outside and consider the works of his hands, let the heavens declare his glory, and honor him simply for who he is, like David through the Psalms and Stephen in Acts 7.)

Latest Reads

I'm in the thick of exchanging reviews with other authors to gather early reviews for Reaching for Grace. Most of these titles are not released yet, but here are a few to watch for!

Innocents of Marbella, by R.C. Mogo (Release date: September 2024)

This was such a captivating read from a debut author. A fascinating Christian historical fiction, set in 1440, with gripping suspense and elements of fantasy (or is it?). I was truly holding my breath the last few pages.

Hiding in Plain Sight, Barbara A. Luker (Release date: January 2025)

I have read three of Luker's books now and love her style. She writes clean romantic suspense with relatable characters. And though I wanted to shake them a few times, it only goes to show how realistic her writing is.

A unique WWII historical fiction piece, this is the story of a young boy in a Japanese internment camp in America. I feel like this is an often overlooked aspect of WWII and enjoyed learning more about it.

War Bonds, Pamela Norsworthy (Available for pre-order, releases February 15, 2024)

Another WWII historical fiction, Norsworthy takes a sweeping view of the war showing how it entangles and upheaves the lives of several characters. An interesting look at what happens to families separated for years.

And a couple articles I enjoyed reading this past month...

Washington Post's "How Many Books Did You Read in 2023?" (If you read two or more, you are in the top half of American adults! Go you!)

And I loved Christianity Today's article "Christian Fiction (Finally) Has Issues". I have several favorite quotes from this one. It really captures the aim of my own writing, as well as the struggle of writing in this market (being either "too Christian or not Christian enough"). Here are a couple great excerpts:

“With nonfiction, you can learn how to heal. But when reading a story, you can actually heal while reading it.”
“If Christian fiction’s only contribution is escapism from reality, we are missing people where they’re at in their hardest moments.”

Author Life

If you haven't checked it out yet, I have a new page up with information on Reaching for Grace, the next book in the Grace Church Series, coming out in August 2024. Edits are done, I'm gathering reviews from other authors (which you can see a few of on that page), and we're about to begin working on the cover.

I'm in a bit of a lull in the publishing process, so I'm starting to work on the next book. First drafts are a bit disheartening compared to a finished product, so I'll leave off with a couple memes for my own encouragement in this process.

Thank you to everyone who reads for following along, I appreciate your support! And I would love to hear about your latest reads if you care to share them in the comments. (And what bracket of reader you're in according to that Washington Post article!)


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