Christ Lutheran Church Stover, MO
Christ Lutheran Church
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Loving GOD Through Worship and Service
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Pastor Tuura


Your Story


By Rev. Tom Tuura

Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church

I remember back in about 1983 as a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth, I signed up for an upper division course in the English department which consisted of the class writing several fictional short stories.  Being an upper division class, as many of you know, it was very hands-on and interactive. My classmates were English or education majors. This wannabe airplane mechanic turned pre-seminary student, just needed an upper division class even if it was outside of my major.  You can see where this is going. As the assignments came due we’d hand them in. It took a long time for professor Joe Maiolo, to return my first assigned story (I just remembered his name after 35 years). By that time the second story was due, which I handed in also. The first story then was all marked up, with a very low grade.  It may have been an F, I don’t recall specifically. The reason? I didn’t have a plot; no plot to my story. According to a plot is, “If an author writes, "The king died and then the queen died," there is no plot for a story. But by writing, "The king died and then the queen died of grief," the writer has provided a plot line for a story.”  Huh? The site continues, “A plot is a causal sequence of events, the "why" for the things that happen in the story. The plot draws the reader into the character's lives and helps the reader understand the choices that the characters make.”

Class time consisted of reading these stories before the class.  That wasn’t my favorite moment in my college career. Mine wasn’t even a story by definition.  If that wasn’t bad enough, my second attempt at a story was exactly the same. So my grade would have been a D or F for the whole class.  Near the end of the quarter, I talked to professor Joe, and he recognized that his tardiness doomed the second writing attempt and guaranteed a poor or failing grade, so he gave me a decent passing grade for the quarter.  We had quarters instead of semesters back then. To add injury, he recognized my last name and recalled that my older brother Larry was in this class and wrote a “class favorite”. That’s just great. Does this story have a plot?  I still don’t know.

We need to learn to tell stories of our life.  Particularly of faith lessons we have learned along the way.  We need to communicate the sequences and the why’s of what has happened in our lives and retell them to those closest to us, particularly our children.  Why? Can you picture me sitting in this college classroom? Can you feel my emotions when the class read my “plotless” story—by the way, something about a guy and his customized hot rod?  The typewriter I was using skipped the letter “o” in the word ‘customize’ so the class was sitting there trying to figure out what “cost mizing” was. Idiots!

Don’t lose the miracle of what God has done in your life.  It will never be forgotten by those who love you. Don’t make the pain and frustration be lost for others to repeat over and over again.  Tell your story.

The objection to sharing a testimony is sometimes people turn it into something that magnifies themselves instead of magnifying Christ.  Or they become too long, and become random rambling with no direction or no point. I am definitely not advocating that. No one wants to hear that, unless its your beloved Grandpa.  All these objections can and need to be addressed. Why? Because your story, my story, or another’s story are all too valuable to miss. Especially if they have a point.

Just before leaving for seminary, Judy and I became small group leaders of a program in my home church.  It was done by the Navigators called the 2:7 Series. It was a series of 7 books based on Colossian 2:7 “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”.  We had to go to a training weekend down in one of the Twin Cities mega churches.  Part of the training, and then part of the student assignment was to write out our three to four minute personal testimony of what God has done in our lives.  I have never forgot that. It was extremely valuable, especially to shrink it down to a very short format. But a much longer personal version for your own benefit will be even more valuable as you see God’s hand in your life.  Trust me it’s there if you know Jesus Christ.

In learning to share a testimony, I have mentioned before that there are many kinds of testimonies.  We can merely stand up and share a Scripture verse that has been meaningful to us. We can share something we are thankful for, just to name a few.  

Our story was a particular kind of story.  It was the story of how we came to faith. There is a biblical pattern we can follow; It has a before, a how, and an after.  It is the pattern used by the Apostle Paul as he re-told his story to Agrippa in Acts 26:1-23. If you read it, it’ll take about three minutes.

In verses 1-11 Paul tells Agrippa about his “before” life.  He tells about his accomplishments as a Pharisee, and what his commission was from the religious leaders.

Your “before” is probably more interesting than you realize.  This can be a very insightful exercise. As you work on this, you will begin to understand those “coincidences” that are really arrangements by God.  You will see that disappointments at the time, were really necessary in making you the person you are. If you look at the time sequence, you may see that you were saved just in time.

The next section is the “how”.  In Paul’s story its contained in his own words in verses 12-18.  In this part he shares specifically what happened step by step. In our version we can literally share the Gospel in this part.

Paul wasn’t done yet, and neither are we.  He shares his “after” in verse 19-23. He shares the hope of the resurrection with Agrippa.  We need to share the “after”. This is the answer to the question, what difference does it make?  You and I can then share what difference Christ has made in your life.

These testimonies were scripted and memorized.  That’s okay. One of the things it has allowed me to do is use parts of it for many years because it is committed to memory.  Over time, we can adapt it, or instead write a chapter of God’s special leading in your life in addition to the chapter on your salvation story.

The best story is the one of the adult that shares of God’s love and growing from their childhood never remembering what it was like to stray from God.

How valuable is your story of faith compared to your military record, or your job history?  We tend to diminish God’s hand in our lives. Or we minimize it down to say an insurance policy stuck in a drawer while we live the “real” aspects of life.  And yet God is lovingly guiding and leading you as the footprints in the sand picture depicts.

You need to pause and grab a pen and blank sheet of paper and start writing.  It’ll change your life. But most importantly, it could change the life of an Agrippa who is listening.  Unfortunately, as the Bible tells us, Agrippa declined, (verse 28). And it will show your friends and family what God did for you.  

Isn’t that the best thing you can hand down to your kids?


Maybe your story will have a plot.


"That's My View From The Blackberry Patch Pulpit" 

-Pastor Tom Tuura