Archive for the ‘Testimonies’ Category

Falling is not Failing

Posted: September 18, 2014 by liftyourvoice1 in Godly Manhood, Godly Womanhood, Testimonies
Tags: ,

If my athlete falls, then did he fail?

Some coaches would say yes. It is obvious to them. You failed to do the skill properly. You failed to do exactly as you were told. You failed to exercise control over your muscles. You failed to land.

You failed.

But gymnasts fall down every day. And even the best gymnast has fallen down. In fact, I would venture to say that is the best gymnasts who have fallen the most.

Gymnastics is a sport with inherent risk—every activity involving height, speed, or motion involves risk. So in training, athletes are bound to fall. It is a calculated risk. A manageable risk. But still a risk none the less.

So when I think of falling, I do not think immediately of failure.

Instead I see the process of perfection, the pursuit of excellence. I see athletes building strength, character, and will. I see athletes disciplining their body and commanding their muscles to obedience.

If they fall, they have not failed. They have discovered and succeeded in finding one more way how not to finish that particular trick.

They have displayed courage and aggression towards their challenge.

They have faced risk and confronted fear and stepped one step closer to mastering the skill.

    Application

Likewise, life is a sport with inherent risk. The chances we take can lead to a solid landing, or a fall flat to our faces.

I started a business at nineteen years old. Somehow, I pulled the resources together, found and united a staff, and then opened my doors for business in July of 2013.

It was exciting, it was scary, but in this analogy it was a new “skill” for a relatively inexperienced new “athlete.” Sure I trained for it, I was the head coach and manager of a facility before this. Sure I knew the sport, I was a national level judge and elite level athlete. But none the less, the risk was high that I would fall on this new skill, this new adventure.

I knew the risk going in, and almost decided the risk to be too great. I almost considered myself too inexperienced and too young—the rest of the world certainly did.

But I took the advice I had been giving my athletes for years: face the challenge, display the courage, and confront the fear and some one step closer to success.

Even if my business fails, even if I fall flat on my face, I will consider the experience a success.

Because the risk was losing a company, but the potential return on investment, the potential reward… was changing the lives of children, impacting the lives of those around me, becoming an example to those I lead, and leading those in my witnessing field towards Jesus Christ.

The risk was great. The potential was greater. And I believe eternity to be a different place because of the ministry God has given me in gymnastics.

If one day I fall and my business fails, It will simply mean then end of one ministry and the beginning of another—with the same veracity as the one before it.

Falling is not failing.

    Going Deeper

Therefore, my advice—for what is worth—is to be smart. Don’t take on risk for the sake of risk. Don’t fall for the sake of falling. That, I would consider foolish.

My advice is this:

Reach for the stars. Dream big. And do not let anyone tell you that you are too young, or too inexperienced or too (insert any other excuse here) to change the world around you.

Do not let the risk of falling hold you back. As I said before, I think the best gymnasts are the ones who have fallen the most. They have certainly trained the most, they have certainly worked the most, and they are certainly the ones with the most exposure to, and risk of, falling.

Whatever you are, be the best at it.

If you are going to dream, dream big. If you are going to work, work hard. If you are going to reach, reach for the stars (because even if you fall, you’ll still land in the clouds).

Falling is not failing.
Failing to try—that is failure.

-Nicholas Minney

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I Can Play The Background

Posted: January 25, 2012 by liftyourvoice1 in Testimonies, Worldliness

(Note: I’m not sure if you see the connection to worldliness or if there is even one. I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to share this, hopefully my thoughts are coherent and that this story accomplishes what it was intended too. Which,  was to bring God Glory!)

The past several weeks we have addressed many interesting and tough concepts here at Lift Your Voice.  This week’s topic is no different.  Worldliness is a very broad topic to discuss. Through the busyness of my week I have been praying and pondering what to write about here on the blog. As I have prayed, one song has come to my mind; and along with that song came thoughts of MY STORY.   So, for my part I will share the song and the story…or as we Christians like to call it my TESTIMONY.

Those who have listened to the show, or if you’ve seen our facebook page, you will know that I am a fan of the Christian rapper Lecrae. Lecrae is a very talented artist, and he is firmly rooted in scripture. One of his best songs and the song that has been running through my head all week is Background.  The song has been on repeat in my itunes, spotify, and my ipod all week. I just cannot get the melody and the message of the song out of my head.  Lecrae’s song speaks to me on so many levels. The language he uses, that of a performer specifically, within the song makes it feel and seem as though he were telling MY STORY.  Before I tell you MY STORY, I want to show you the lyrics of this song and perhaps you will understand MY STORY and how it fits into this discussion on worldliness.

“Background”
(feat. C-Lite)

I could play the background
I could play the background
Cause I know sometimes I get in the way
So won’t You take the lead, lead, lead?
So won’t You take the lead, lead, lead?
And I could play the background, background
And you could take the lead

It’s evident you run the show, so let me back down
You take the leading role, and I’ll play the background
I know I miss my cues, know I forget my lines
I’m sticking to your script, and I’m reading all your signs
I don’t need my name in lights, I don’t need a starring role
Why gain the whole wide world, If I’m just going lose my soul
And my ways ain’t purified, don’t live according to Your Word
I can’t endure this life without Your wisdom being heard
So word to every dance, a foe, a pop star
‘Cause we all play the background, but mine’s a rockstar
Yeah, so if you need me I’ll be stage right
Praying the whole world will start embracing stage fright
So let me fall back, stop giving my suggestions
‘Cause when I follow my obsessions, I end up confessing
That I’m not that impressive, matter of fact
I’m who I are, a trail of stardust leading to the superstar

I could play the background
I could play the background
Cause I know sometimes I get in the way
So won’t You take the lead, lead, lead?
So won’t You take the lead, lead, lead?
And I could play the background, background
And you could take the lead

I had a dream that I was captain of my soul
I was master of my fate, lost control. and then I sank
So I don’t want to take the lead, ’cause I’m prone to make mistakes
All the folks who follow me, going end up in the wrong place
So let me just shadow you, let me trace your lines
Matter of fact, just take my pen, here, you create my rhymes
‘Cause if I do this by myself, I’m scared that I’ll succeed
And no longer trust in you, ’cause I only trust in me
And see, that’s how you end up headed to destruction
Paving a road to nowhere, pour your life out for nothing
You pulled my card, I’m bluffing, You know what’s in my hand
Me, I’m just going to trust you, You cause the dice to land
I’m in control of nothing, follow you at any cost
Some call it sovereign will, all I know is you the boss
Man, I’m so at ease, I’m so content
I’ll play the background, like it’s an instrument

I could play the background
I could play the background
Cause I know sometimes I get in the way
So won’t You take the lead, lead, lead?
So won’t You take the lead, lead, lead?
And I could play the background, background
And you could take the lead

I know I’m safest when I’m in Your will, and trust Your Word
I know I’m dangerous when I trust myself, my vision blurred
And I ain’t got no time to play life’s foolish games
Got plenty aims, but do they really Glorify Your name
And it’s a shame, the way I want to do these things for You
Don’t even cling to you, take time to sit and gleam from You
Seems You were patient in my ignorance
If ignorance is bliss, it’s ’cause she never heard of this

I could play the background
I could play the background
Cause I know sometimes I get in the way
So won’t You take the lead, lead, lead?
So won’t You take the lead, lead, lead?
And I could play the background, background
And you could take the lead

I could play the background
I could play the background
Cause I know sometimes I get in the way
So won’t You take the lead, lead, lead?
So won’t You take the lead, lead, lead?
And I could play the background, background
And you could take the lead.

If you have known me for any length of time, you probably already know and have heard this story.  But, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure I’m going to share it with you.

MY STORY

Selfish desires are a major part of, if not the foundation of worldliness. For many selfish desires lead to hedonism and a lifestyle that is very worldly. At one time in my life I had been on a path to fulfill my selfish desires, my selfish ambition.  My ambition was to be in the spotlight, to be the focus of as many people’s attention as I could. I wanted to be rich and famous and have lots of power in the world. Ever since I was little I have had a sense that I was set apart to be and do something great. Of course throughout much of my life my concept of what is great was viewed through what the world thought greatness was.

For many of you, you may be too young to remember the show “Family Ties.” It was a very popular sitcom throughout the 1980’s. I was two almost three when its last season aired.  But, I remember watching it when I was little. Recently, thanks to Netflix, I’ve been able to watch this beloved show again. As, I’ve been watching these old episodes I have realized that I was at one time very much like one of the sitcoms major characters, Alex P. Keaton(played by Michael J. Fox). Alex is the oldest of his family during the shows run his character was very ambitious and very set on becoming as rich and powerful as he could. Often times his selfishness and earthly desires would get him into trouble, and by the end of the show he would learn a valuable life lesson and it would look like he would be less selfish than before.  But, of course in the next episode, despite being knocked down a few pegs in the previous episode, he would be his old prideful and selfish self and he’d learn a whole new less.

Although an extreme example I did have my moments where I was like Alex. My parents have always described me as a “Ham” or one who has to be the center of attention all the time. It’s true. I love attention. I love being the focus of everyone around me. From a young age I had decided that I would find as many ways to be that focus of everyone’s attention that I could. Naturally these desires lead me to become involved with theater.

The first play I can remember being in was my first grade classes production of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” I played Yukon Cornelius (we based our play off of the classic Christmas movie). It was my first taste of being on stage and I loved it.  The next time I was able to get on stage was in fifth grade. From that point on there really hasn’t been a year where I haven’t done something that involved theater. From the fifth grade until I graduated high school I was in a total of 24 productions in church, school, and around the community.  I was told by a well-known actress from the area that I could make a career out of acting. The founder of my high school’s theater program who also happened to be a producer for Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster called me a triple threat on the stage. A local newspaper writer who wrote reviews of professional theater for the paper said after one of my performances that I would have gotten rave reviews from him if he were writing a review for the paper. I once had a community theater company asking me to come and play the lead in their next production.

I loved theater, and I was good at it. I was good at it, and I knew it (which was very dangerous). I truthfully wanted to make that my career.  But, not only was I involved in theater, but if it was performance based, or it involved me being in front of people, I was there and I was involved. I was in my school’s morning TV show which did the announcements on all the televisions in the school. I did that because it was the best way I could force myself into every student’s life every day. I was on the TV and they had to watch, I got to be the center of attention. I was my class’s treasure for two years because it would bring me attention. I ran track and cross country (I did love these sports and had a lot of fun) because as an athlete at school it brought me attention. I was the school’s mascot for football because it brought me attention.  Everything I did was all about bringing me glory and attention.

There was a section in the local paper each week set aside for teens and stories about teens in the community. It covered issues that teens would discuss, events that teens were a part of, theater, sports, politics, and so on. Frequently I was interviewed for various topics that were printed in that section. It got to the point where the reporter that wrote that section stated that she would just contact me for every story. I hate to word it this way, but at least in the immediate area I grew up in I could have been considered a local celebrity.  My father was the Pastor of a church, and often times considered the pastor for the town as a whole.  If Will Smith was considered the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” then I very well may have been considered the prince of Bowmansville for a period of time.  At the very least I was a favored son of my high school and my community.

I don’t say these things to pump myself up, but rather to paint the picture of what I had wanted at one time. In my community it was difficult for me to go anywhere without someone knowing either me or my father, and to a degree I liked it that way. I was the center of attention. My selfish desire to have glory and be well known and liked was being realized in the community.  At the time I felt that I cast a very big shadow and I most definitely had a big head.

I was center stage and life was all about me. While I claimed to be a Christian, and I strived to live a life that was considered to be good, I wanted all the glory. God was in the background of my life.  It was very evident. At the end of every performance or the end of a run of shows, when I was not the center of attention or in the spotlight, I felt very empty. Being in the spotlight was my drug.  Without it I felt I had a meaningless life.  Much like Solomon in Ecclesiastes I was searching for meaning, despite the fact that meaning was right under my nose in a Bible, I couldn’t find it.

I came to Liberty University in fall 2005 with every intention of continuing the trend. I intended to try and continue to draw attention to myself and be the center of attention. I auditioned for the theater program and because it involved acting a ministry team called King’s Players.  Although I had developed somewhat of a big head, I made attempts at being humble. Underneath the humility still lay the desire to be the center of attention though. But slowly my attitude began to change. It actually had begun with my decision to come to Liberty. My decision to come to LU was the first decision in my entire life that I actually stepped back and let God make for me. I allowed Him to direct me to LU, but He still did not have control over everything. I was still in the business of bringing glory to me.

The change really took shape after my auditions. During freshman week at LU my prayer leader shared with me 1 Corinthians 10:31. It says “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.” He explained that everything we did in life, as Christians, should be done for the glory of God. This was a completely new concept to me, because everything I had done, all my accolades and accomplishments, were done for my glory. Every show I had done was to draw attention to me and my talent. I was trying to show everyone how good I was.  I thought about this for a while, and I realized and I asked myself exactly what the Bible says… what does it profit me to gain the whole world and lose my soul? I had spent my whole life trusting in me, my talents, and was trying to gain glory for me. I began to see why I was empty when I wasn’t the center of attention.  I saw that my talents were not there to bring me glory, but rather they were there to bring God glory.  I realized that if I began to try and glorify God in all things, all life’s little details and its big occurrences that I could find meaning and satisfaction in my life. I wanted to try this, so I decided to make 1 Corinthians 10:31 my life verse.

Remember that I had auditioned for two theater groups at LU right? Well, I ended up being cast in both.  I still had that talent; the difference was I had a new resolve to live for God’s glory instead of my own. Here came my first test in this. Because I was cast in both I had to make a decision. I could only choose one. Both directors gave me 48 hours to pick. On the one hand was glory and the spotlight in the school’s main theater group; on the other was a minimally funded ministry team that would not bring me much attention. I had to sit down and pray, and I applied my new life verse.  I prayed to God and asked Him which one I could bring more glory to Him through. Now, mind you this was through me, if you were in the situation God may have gained more glory if you chose differently than I, but for me God showed that He would gain more glory if I would choose King’s Players. This meant less glory and less recognition for me, but in the end I could glorify God more through my participation in the ministry team.

I have been a part of that ministry off and on for the last seven years or so. As a result of working with this ministry I gave in to God’s call for me to go into full time ministry. Up until then I did not want to go into ministry because chances were that I would not be the spotlight and I certainly wouldn’t get glory, money, or fame.  The point of my story is that I wanted to be the lead, not the background. I have grown to realize over the years that being the lead and wanting to be in control or the center of attention is a worldly desire. It’s worldliness. But stepping back and tacking the background and letting God take the lead and gain the glory, while difficult for me to do, is more satisfying. Also,  I still feel as though I am supposed to be great. But God defines that greatness. I believe that my success or my greatness is not defined by the greatness I achieve in man’s eyes but rather my obedience to God and His call on my life.

Lecrae’s song speaks to me because of its language. It’s a daily prayer for me.  I still struggle with the desire to be out front.  But I run these desires through a lens.  The line in the bridge where Lecrae says “Got plenty aims, but do they really Glorify Your name” is that lens. Do my aims glorify God’s name. I still often times get to be out front and be the center of people’s attention. I love to entertain.  But because I’m playing the background now, I make sure to point their attention to the lead……..The lead who saved my life despite my worldly and sinful desires.  I’m trying to embrace stage fright so that God can get the glory…because as Lecrae says all I am is “a trail of stardust leading to the superstar.”

(Note: I’m not sure if you see the connection to worldliness or if there is even one. I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to share this, hopefully my thoughts are coherent and that this story accomplishes what it was intended too. Which, was to bring God Glory!)

Brandon Witmyer—Director and host of Lift Your Voice

Lecrae: I Am Second

Posted: January 24, 2012 by liftyourvoice1 in Testimonies, Worldliness

I felt it was appropriate to share this testimony from Lecrae. It is a great picture of turning from a materialistic worldview to a Christ centered worldview. Lecrae has gone from being of the world to being in the world as a minister of the Gospel.