And [the saints, believers in Jesus] overcame [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony… Revelation 12:11a
If you can say how God has changed your life, that’s the most powerful message you have; no one can undo what Jesus has done.
When you declare what God has done and is doing in your life, you are defeating the devil. If you can’t declare and demonstrate what the kingdom of God is doing in your life, then what you have to say about the Bible doesn’t have a lot of weight. But if you can say how God has changed your life, that’s the most powerful message you have; no one can undo what Jesus has done.
Today we welcome Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Tori Kelly, who shares in an interview with Miles about her life and testimony.
Tori grew up in Murrieta/Temecula area and was raised in a Christian home. At a young age, she fell in love with signing and with Jesus. She attended a Christian school, church, and youth group, where she had many opportunities to learn about Jesus and discover His love for her.
At the age of 6, Tori participated in her first talent show. Although the first experience made her feel timid, she quickly grew to love performing and began to participate in singing competitions. By the time Tori was 12, she had landed her first record deal. A whole album was recorded and polished for two years, but in the end, everything fell apart, the companies parted ways, and the album was never released.
Tori was devastated by the turn of events, and she felt rejected. She encountered many discouraging obstacles as she sought a new label and auditioned for American Idol, none of which panned out for her. Sometimes she felt that even though God had given her a gift, there was no place for it to flourish and that her singing career was over before it began. In this difficult and confusing season of her life, she turned to God for comfort and direction.
As God so often does with our hurts and sorrows, He was able to use them for good. He began to mold and shape Tori into a changed person. She started writing her own music, driven off the pain and rejection she felt. Looking back over this period of her life, she can see God’s guidance, and she now believes that she needed to experience those years of pain and rejection so that she could learn from them and grow stronger. She now has released an album, performed on sold-out tours, done a movie voice-over, and performed with famous singers - all of which seem like an unbelievable dream to her!
If you’ve had a failure, the devil desires to beat you down. He doesn’t want you to glorify God and doesn’t want you to become the person God designed you to be, so he will do anything to derail you. But God allows us to have failures so that He can redirect our lives or to purify our hearts to make us trust Him more. In our hurts and disappointments, we must keep our eyes focused on Him!
Especially for a young artist in the spotlight as Tori is, perfectionism is definitely a temptation. Trying to do things on our own and preparing how we will act or who we will be are signs that we are not trusting God. [This doesn’t mean we don’t prepare for performances or presentations, but that we are open to the Spirit as we prepare and as we present.] Perfectionism desires to control everything and breeds the insecurity of not being in control, and it can also cause us to be disobedient to God’s direction.
Maybe you struggle with perfectionism in your Christian walk, putting pressure on yourself to deserve blessing or feeling weighed down by a spirit of condemnation and failure. But Christianity is not at all about being perfect. Rather, it is about the acknowledgment of our broken state and our need for God, accepting the free gift of salvation, and understanding that life is so much more abundant and impactful when we walk with Him through everything.
Tori shared that for a long time, she felt confused about her “testimony.” She felt that because she had known God since she was a child and had never had a dramatic transformation story, that she had nothing to share. But God is teaching her that if He is in the center of her life, He is better than anything else in her life, and that is her story. There are always markers in the life of a believer where we can see God’s hand of protection, guidance, renewal, and change.
Tori shared a verse that has been a theme for her life recently:
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; Philippians 3:7-9
She shares that she has no righteousness of her own or any image she can put on herself to make herself perfect or righteous. But any earthly blessing she experiences is simply that - a blessing - and that if it all suddenly went away, she would still have Jesus. That is something that no one can take away!
When you ask Christ to be your Savior, you can’t spiritually improve upon His gift. When you are born again, you are in Christ, and He can’t love you more than He already does. You read your Bible, pray, and serve because you love Him and you are called to those things. They will help you grow and live more abundantly, but they don’t change how God sees you. In Christ, God loves you and forgives you. He accepts you as you are and desires to walk with you, as Father and child.