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Monthly Archives: July 2014

When You’re Desperate to Find God (My Testimony Pt 1)

 

I made God a deal. “Okay, God,” I said, “I’m going to try this one more time. I am going to walk down to that church tonight but if you don’t change my life tonight I am going to come back home, drink that entire bottle of vodka and shoot myself in the head.”

 

It was December 14, 2004. I was a junior in high school and, to all of my teachers and many of my friends at school I was just your average teenager. I had straight A’s, a small group of close friends and a larger group of just-hang-out-at-school friends. I was in the process of choosing a college and I worked a part time job. My life was as average looking as you could imagine. But nobody knew of how I lived when I was at home.

I grew up with a physically, emotionally and spiritually abusive father until I was 11. My oldest brother committed suicide when I was 15. My mother was single and tried the best she could, but I had the freedoms to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. She felt that I had been too sheltered as a kid and wanted me to have the chance to live it up.

I started drinking at 11. By the age of 12 I was spending days in pool halls, at 13 going to nightclubs and by 15 going to bars with my older siblings and cousins. It wasn’t that I actually wanted to do these things–I did them because many people in my life said that drinking was fun and would make me happy. I rarely found it fun and never found happiness from it so I assumed each time that I just hadn’t drunk enough. If only I drank a little more maybe next time I would get happy.

I poured myself into being that star student, the one with straight A’s and involved in everything, but at night I was drinking whatever I could get my hands on (which varied–sometimes I would have full bottles left by my older siblings, sometimes nothing). By 14 I drank not really to get drunk but just to numb myself of the loneliness I had found myself in. I couldn’t figure out why I felt so alone. I had a lot of friends and was involved in a lot at school and I had what every teen wanted (or so I thought)–freedom. But there was more missing.

I knew that I missed church, the people in church, and I missed God. It was such an important part of my life as a kid–it was where I always felt safe and protected–but now I was away from it. I was taken away from it at 11 and never found a way to get back. So what did I do? I started sitting in my room alone at night, reading the Bible, watching tv preachers and listening to Christian music on the radio. All while I drank my vodka.

So back to December 14, 2004. I had had enough of living the way I did. I was getting burned out from school and more and more depressed as time went on. I had been emailing a church on and off for two years and decided that on this night I was going to go visit. They weren’t having a service this night but they were doing their regular Tuesday night prayer meeting. I figured it would be a great way to visit. I could walk in with few people noticing, pray by myself, and if I hated it never go back. If I loved it I’d go to the service the next night.

So I psyched myself up and walked to the church down the road from my house. When I got there, though, all of the lights were off and no one was there. I was so mad at myself. I couldn’t believe I didn’t get the day right. Apparently if I went through all this to get to the church and it wasn’t even open then God must not want me there. So I turned around and left. Hot tears felt down my face but quickly froze on that icy winter night. (Turns out the night was right–people were just late because of the snow on the roads)

The next day I had a meltdown at school and called my mother to come pick me up. I just told her I had a bad day and really needed to come home. She came and got me and dropped me off at the house. A few hours later she left for work and I was alone.

I got back on my computer and re-read that church’s website regarding their service times. I so badly wanted to go back–I was so sick of life as I had known it. I also re-read the emails they had sent me.

I made God a deal. “Okay, God,’ I said, “I’m going to try this one more time. I am going to walk down to that church tonight but if you don’t change my life tonight I am going to come back home, drink that entire bottle of vodka, and shoot myself in the head.”

I was so fed up with life and struggling so deeply with depression that if church didn’t work out this night–and I fully expected it not to–that i was going to kill myself. But I felt it only fair to give God one more chance (and deep down I really wanted Him to come through)–at least a chance to prove Himself. He got me through so much as a kid–why couldn’t He do it now?

I didn’t expect Him to do it, though.

I walked down to that church again. I put my door on the handle–felt like an eternity before I opened it. And when I stepped through that door I walked through to the next chapter of my life.

This night my life changed.

For the first time in more years than I could remember I walked home that night, not with tears but with a smile on my face. I sang all the way home… “Jehovah-Jireh, my Provider, His grace is sufficient for me…’

Sometimes people ask how can one service change me, It changed me because I realized that the emptiness inside of me was that I was missing what I grew up knowing–I was very lonely growing up but always had God to turn to. When I left church I felt like I lost Him.

The following Sunday, December 19, I was filled with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues. I wasn’t seeking the Holy Ghost. I merely walked up to the altar and started crying and telling God I needed Him to fix my life. One month later I was re-baptized in Jesus Name.

My life has never been the same since. God proved Himself faithful. When I wanted to die He stepped in and gave me reason to live. It was during that darkest moment of desperation that God stepped in, heard my prayer, and He saved me.

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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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8 Things I Wish My Pastor Knew

Pastor, here are 8 things I wish you knew:

I wish you knew how much you are appreciated. Many times it becomes so routine for you to do all that you do around the church that it becomes the norm and people forget to thank you. But every counseling appointment, every sermon, every time you clean up the church, every hospital visit, every funeral, every wedding, every thing you do–it doesn’t go unnoticed. Though you ought to be thanked more than you are, I wish that every time you aren’t you still know that you’re appreciated.

I wish you knew just how much we pray for you. I wish you knew that the saints in your church are asking God to bless you not only spiritually but also physically, mentally, and financially–a hundredfold what you’ve blessed others. You know more than all of us how the enemy will try and attack you and your family and tell you that you’re alone and that nobody prays for you. I wish that you know that’s not true. We do pray for you. Daily.

I wish you knew how far your efforts really go. Sometimes you wonder if they’re really going anywhere. You doubt if all that you do is really changing anything or helping anyone. But know this: every person you lead to God and every life you touch in turn reaches others. I wish you knew just how much your efforts produced. If you touched as few as ten lives (and rest assured you’ve done much more than that–more than you know!) and each of those ten lives reached ten more, you have participated in reaching 100 lives. And so on and so forth. Your efforts are not in vain. Because of your willingness to be used of God, there are people saved today that you don’t even know. And, of course, there are a lot of people saved who you do know. It’s all worth it. Someday you’ll see.

I wish you knew how much you’ve impacted my life. You know where I’ve come from and you know what I’ve gone through yet you don’t know just how much of it God pulled me through because I had a praying pastor. A pastor who stood by me, who was at times my closest ally, who believed God could make my life into something I could not see. Because of your faith and faithfulness, God has brought me to places I never dreamed my life could go.

I wish you knew how much you’re valued. Not only by the church but also by God. If only you could see yourself through His eyes then you would know your true value. And if you could only see yourself through the eyes of your saints (I know what you’re thinking–you’d NEVER want to do that haha!) but truthfully, you’d find much more value than you think. Remember the story of Aaron and Hur lifting the hands of Moses? That is what we want to be to you and your family. When you are down we want to lift you up. When your family struggles we want to be a support. Rest assured, we’ve got your back.

I wish you knew that it’s not your fault. It’s not your fault when someone chooses to not live for God. It’s not your fault when people make bad decisions. It’s not your fault when bad things happen to good people, even if it was a circumstance in which you tried your best to help. You preached the Word. You prayed, you counseled, you did everything you could to help. The decision they make (or the outcome) is not a reflection of your success as a pastor or your leadership qualities.

I wish you knew how respected you are. You might wonder what people in the community think and say about you, or what people within the church think and say, or even people at other churches. I know this: when I hear your name mentioned or I bring it up and someone realizes I know you, I hear nothing but good reports. I hear people talk about what a wonderful person you are–people I didn’t even realize knew you. Proverbs 22:1 says that a good name is better to have than riches. You have the good name–shall we pray for the riches too? 🙂

I wish you knew how much you’re loved. By God and by your church family. Words cannot do justice here, otherwise this paragraph would be the longest.

Thank you for all that you do. May God bless you and your family richly.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

When You Feel Like Quitting Church

Chances are if you are reading this you:

-Are thinking about quitting church
-Have thought about quitting church
-Know someone who may be thinking about leaving church

So what do you do? What do you say?

When I was eight years old I heard a sermon that marked the beginning of my life with God. I had been in church prior to this but there comes a point in every church kid’s life where he or she has to decide that they will be a Christian because THEY believe it and not just because their parents do.

This sermon was that moment. It was by the Rev. Robert Bayer and it was called “Resolution to Stand”

He preached about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being cast into the fiery furnace because they refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol. He highlighted how when the heat was up, the pressure was on, and they stood alone the young men made a resolution to stand. They wouldn’t quit. They wouldn’t turn away from God. They knew He would save them. That He would deliver them. They refused to quit. They made a Resolution to Stand.

I encourage you to listen to these words tonight.

-If you feel like you are standing alone right now, make a Resolution to Stand.
-If the heat is on–things aren’t going how you expected them to and you are caught in a whirlwind of problems, make a Resolution to Stand.
-If you are coming up against massive amounts of pressure, make a Resolution to Stand.

“But you don’t understand. I’ve been offended. I’ve been hurt. My unsaved family is against me. My friends are leaving me. I don’t feel God. I’m not even sure I believe this.”

Keep in mind that the Bible says no temptation comes against you that isn’t common to man (I Corinthians 10:13). If you are struggling with something be sure others are as well. I will caps this so if there’s one thing you notice it is this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

And it’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay to need answers. It’s okay if people are against you. It doesn’t feel like it, but things will get better. Time DOES heal all wounds (if not completely as least a bit). Just make a Resolution to Stand.

Don’t give up. If you give up things can’t get better. It is only by hanging on that you will begin to see things change over time. It is only by holding on that you will see God work in your life. But if you walk away from God how can He work in your life? Make a Resolution to Stand.

 
 

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