It's day number ELEVEN, out of all eleven salvation testimonies shared on Selah these past 2 weeks. I am so truly thankful for each and every guest contributor, and I hope it has caused your heart to pause, ponder and praise the Giver of eternal life in Him!
Meet Brook. Her heart for outreach and discipleship shine through her story, and I can't wait to share it with you...
by Brook Howell
As the weather has turned from cold and dreary to sunny and breezy, my mood has changed from depressed to hopeful. As I was pondering this change today and how much I was acting like my "normal" goofy, off the wall odd-ball self, I thought of the verse above."Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;the old has gone, the new has come!"2 Corinthians 5:17
Sixteen years ago, there was an even bigger shift in my life. A shift that gives new meaning to "the old has gone, the new has come!"
I grew up in a small town in Northeast Nebraska of approximately 600. There were 15 students in my graduating class. For generations, my family had attended the Lutheran church. I went to Sunday School, learned many Bible stories, was confirmed and intellectually knew all about God. But I didn't "know" God in a personal way.
After I graduated from high school, I moved to Lincoln and attended the University. I was so blessed to move into Love Hall on East Campus with 40-50 other women where we cooked and cleaned for ourselves so that our expenses were less. Many of the women I lived with attended Bible Studies and rallies through the Navigators. The Navigators are a Christian outreach ministry to many different places such as university campuses. Their mission is to help bring people to Christ and equip them to serve and grow in their walk with the Lord.
During my first year of college, I attended Bible Studies, rallies and church with several of the women from Love Hall. As the weeks and months of my freshmen year went by I began to see that my life was different from these women. I wasn't exactly sure how or why, but felt a strong desire to have what they had.
That winter I remember being sick of my negativity and the judgmental way I responded to people. The day after attending a formal with a group of people from Navigators, I sat in my room contemplating. My mind whirled with thoughts and as most undergraduates do, I focused on my future. What did my future hold? Did I want my life to continue on the same path I was on at the time?
I considered what knew about God. In my mind, I knew that God had sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for the sin of the world. But I didn't take that promise personally.
As I thought about what was going on in my life and what I saw in the new friends I had, I knew the time had come to ask the questions out loud that I had been chewing on for months. In Love Hall, we had big sisters or mentors. I went in search of my mentor, but she was out. Instead I talked to her room ate, Jodi.
Jodi listened as I talked about what was going on in my life. I don't remember details of what happened in their room that day, but I do remember how I suddenly came to realize that God loves me - Brook - and that He sent Jesus to earth to die for my sins. Wow! How could I not accept this great gift?
Jodi led me in the sinner's prayer. It went something like this - Lord, I am a sinner and need you to forgive me. Please come into my heart and help me to live for you. On March 16, 1993, I became a new creation! The old was gone, the new had come!
I can't say there were fireworks after that moment, but my life did change. Like the metamorphosis of a butterfly, I felt like I had escaped my cocoon and was free to fly! I was no longer a plain colored caterpillar or pupa, but a beautiful butterfly. I no longer had the heaviness of being bound, but the lightness of being free.
When we open our lives and our hearts to God and let Him transform us, the results are so much more than we could ever dream or imagine.
Some Bible verses that I clung to during those first days were these:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
and Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Have you made the personal decision to ask God to transform your life? Have you asked God to come into your heart, change you and make you? Have you asked Him to forgive you and cleanse you of your sins?
If not, why not make a decision during this time of renewal, of new growth, in this season of spring?
If you haven't made God Lord of your life and you'd like to, simply follow the steps that I did sixteen years ago. Open your heart and speak words to God from your heart. If you need help, you can use words like these...God, I know that I am a sinner in need of forgiveness. I believe that your Son, Jesus, came and died for my sins. Please forgive me, come into my life and help me to live for you. Amen.
If you made this decision right now or anytime in the past, welcome to the kingdom! Please know that whether you share this decision with me personally or not, please find a church and get plugged in. Following the Lord is the most amazing journey you will experience and it has eternal benefits!
God's Word also holds so many promises for you as a new believer. If you don't already have a Bible, please find one in a translation that's easy to understand like the New International Version (NIV) or New Living Translation (NLT) and begin reading in the book of John in the New Testament. I would also suggest reading a Psalm or a Proverb a day for encouragement.
During the next few weeks I will be sharing the ways that I have used to draw near to God. No matter where you are in your relationship with the Savior, I hope these resources will help and encourage you to draw near to God as He draws near to you. (See Brooke's blog for these resources...)
Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of Jesus. I cannot image how it grieved you to give your only Son for the sin of the World. Savior, please work in our hearts and help us to be mindful of this great gift each and every day of our lives. Help us to seek you first in all we do. Love us and grow us to be more like You. Motivate us to spend time with you in prayer, in your Word, in worship and in many other ways that increase our love for you. As we seek you, let us know your will for our lives so that we can live and serve in ways that bring you glory always. In your name we praise, Amen
Brook Howell is a child of God who desires to know Him, to encourage others in their walk with the Savior and to live up to the high calling of a woman of prayer. Raised in Nebraska and transplanted in Missouri, Brook has been married to her "techie" husband for nine years and together they have journeyed through infertility, loss, and Brook's battle with depression. Brook is a former teacher, current foster mother, future West Highland White Terrier breeder and professional counseling graduate student. The promise she clings to is Isaiah 58:11 (NIV) which says, "The LORD will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."