The Walk Of Faith

Note from Eric:  And last but not least, here are several stories from the days when Jesus walked the earth about the power of faith to change their lives.  Be encouraged that Jesus is still alive and doing miracles.  These are just a few of those recorded in the Bible, as the Apostle John said, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25).  I pray they inspire you to put your faith in Christ for everything in your life, just as they have done for me.

Faith is more than a mind-game, more than a psychological tool.  Faith has very real power to make things happen. As you read, notice that the people in these stories saw miracles happen not because they had faith in themselves, and not even because they had faith in “the power of faith.”  They had faith in Christ. They put their faith in a Man who healed the sick, raised the dead, and walked on water.  A Man who Himself was raised from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God.

Ask Christ to increase your faith in Him as you read through these stories.  He will; because He is the author and perfecter of our faith.*

*Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).

STORIES OF CHANGED LIVES IN JESUS’ DAY
As recorded in the Bible

Two Blind Men See By Faith

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”

When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you,” and their sight was restored.

(Matthew 9:27-30)

Soldier’s Servant Healed By Faith

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.”

Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.

(Matthew 8:5-13)

Man Forgiven By Faith

One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

(Luke 5:17-26)

Dead Girl Raised To Life By Faith

Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher any more.”

Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”

When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”

They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

(Luke 8:41-42, 49-56)

Woman’s Bleeding Healed By Faith

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

(Luke 8:42-48)

Mountains Moved By Faith

Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

(Matthew 21:18-22)

Peter Walks On Water By Faith – And Sinks Without It

During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

(Matthew 14:25-33)

Girl Healed By Mother’s Faith

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

(Matthew 15:21-28)

Woman Saved By Faith

Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is– that she is a sinner.”

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven– for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

(Luke 7:36-50)

RENEW YOUR FAITH

After reading these stories of people who put their faith in Christ, it’s a good time to stop and pray about those things in our life that could be moved by faith as well. If you’d like to pray, here are a few words to help you in praying.

Lord, I see how powerful faith can be.  Forgive me for my lack of faith.   Increase my faith, Lord.  I do believe you have the power to do these things, and I believe you can work in my life just as powerfully.  I renew my faith in you right now.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Know That Your Prayers Are Powerful And Effective

Listen to these words from the Bible recorded in James 5:15:

“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

If you’d like to spend more time in prayer, or would like someone to pray for you, please visit A Quiet Place To Pray.

More Short Stories

Here are several short excerpts from stories of people whose lives have changed by the power of Christ…

JESUS WAS EVERYTHING I WAS LOOKING FOR
by Ari Hamalainen

At university I became exposed to ideas and philosophies that were new to me. I became interested in Buddhism, Occult, Astral Projection, Meditation, Life After Death, Pyramids and some Greek philosophy. I joined the Ancient Astronaut Society because Daniken’s theory seemed like a good answer to many questions concerning Man’s origin.

Looking at the stars at night I often thought “Where do we come from in this big universe and why are we here?”

I thought the Ancient Astronaut theory was true. I practiced some meditation and fasting, made pyramids and tried to experience Out of Body Experiences. I wanted to cut short my university studies to go and become a Buddhist monk in Tibet (my fellow students thought I was nuts).

These things brought deception and confusion into my life and my relationships. At the end of my freshman year my brother (who was also searching for Truth) shared with me what he had found in the Bible.

I read the Bible and God began to minister His Truth to my heart.  It made more sense than all the other philosophies and theories I had been reading. Later I came to understand that the Bible is not just a book but is the faithful and preserved record of God’s revelation of Himself to mankind (the very Word of God).

I was 20 when I believed the gospel of Jesus Christ with all my heart; that I was a sinner desperately in need of God’s salvation. I prayed to God asking for the forgiveness and salvation which is available only in Jesus. Then I got baptized at a local church. Jesus, the Son of God, is the Truth. (John 14:6; Colossians 2:3).

Apart from Christ a person is in darkness and you don’t know it until the Light shines in (2 Corinthians 4:4). I was living in spiritual darkness and God shined the Light of His Word into my heart. Jesus was everything I was looking for. This is not surprising in retrospect: Only God can truly satisfy; man cannot. There is only one way to God. God’s way is true and it brings freedom and hope, man’s way is false and it brings bondage, vanity and death.

I STARTED TO RETHINK THE WHOLE CHURCH THING
by Jill Cherni

I guess I’ll start out by saying I have been brought up in the church and never had “bad” parents or any unusual childhood memories that normally turn people away from God.

I grew up and went to college and worked as a young adult with partying as the center of my life. After about the age of 20 I never really thought about going to church anymore because I only went on Christmas and Easter, so what was the use?

I went on like that until age 24 when I made a major move away from my hometown and family where the partying became a more intense thing and more kinds of them. I met a man that I eventually married and had 2 children with and started to rethink the whole church thing.

I was brought up in church and knew the “right” thing to do. I began taking the children to church. We went, without my husband for 6 years (we were still partying without a thought), till I began waking up on Sundays and wondering if we should go at all. Nothing was happening and again, what was the use?

My neighbor and I were talking and she invited me to her church.  I went and was completely blown away by the presence of God! It took me about 3 months of sitting there trying to figure out if it was real. Well, to make a long story short, that was 2 years ago and since then the Lord Jesus has cleaned my closets and has set up His Kingdom in every area of my heart and life, my husband is saved, and we are just praising God for His mighty hand in our lives!

I’M STILL HOLDING ONTO THAT ROCK
by Jack Butler

In 1973, as I was floating down some lazy rapids, I reached out and held tightly onto a rock when I heard the thunder of a waterfall up ahead. To my surprise, all the things that were floating with me in that river began to bump into me and hit me and cause me to almost lose my grip on that rock.

That rock has a name. And the name of that Rock is Jesus, the Christ, the rock of my salvation. I had been floating along with the world, unaware of the danger I was in.

I had been notified about this “Rock” many times and either I didn’t listen, or I took the message lightly or I just blew it off. Fortunately, during my life, many messengers were sent to me at different times, to inform me of my peril.

That messenger in 1973 was an old navy friend, who had turned Christian. His former life and mine were anything but “Christian!” That’s probably why his words and messages to me were so effective. He was just a man like me, not a paid professional trying to sell me “his religion”. He was introducing me to “The Rock”. Twenty four years later I am still holding onto that “Rock.”

WE ALL SCREW UP AND DO STUPID THINGS
by Liz O’Conner

My name is Liz O’Connor, and I was saved by the blood of Jesus Christ last September (written in Nov. 1997). Until then, the only thing I used Sunday for was work and sleep.

I got into Phantom of the Opera when I was in 8th grade, and that was helped lead me closer to Satan. In January of last year, my friends and I almost committed suicide over a friend’s depression, and our own non-communication with each other.

By last September, I’d read the Satanic Bible, dressed in black and wore charms to protect myself from the evil presence that hung around my friends and I. To say I was scared and frightened and all words related to that is an understatement. I felt as if I were playing a game for my life, but I’d never asked to play, and I never learned the rules.

I began talking to my friend, Mary, on the way to Marching Band trips last September, and she introduced me to Jesus. A few weeks later, after overcoming the block inside of me, I accepted Jesus, and my life has been wonderful since.

If you’re not saved, and you want the greatest life has to offer, while gaining your ticket to be with God, admit you are a sinner, you can’t earn you way into God’s graces, and that you need the sacrifice of Jesus to clean you of your sins. You are not alone, we all screw up and do stupid things, and we can all be forgiven if we accept Jesus. God bless you all!

MY FINGER COULD NOT MOVE
by AWA

My way to Jesus has been a long road. I was sent to church at a young age with my grandmother.  My parents didn’t go to church themselves. My father didn’t believe in church or God. As I grew a little older my mother became addicted to alcohol and drugs. My father went to work out of state.

That left me and my sister alone with her. Abuse followed.  We would have to sleep in shifts because she came after us while we slept. We woke up one night to find her standing over us with a knife. I was 9 my sister was 8. After about 2 years my younger sister was already doing drugs, hanging out with much older people and not coming home for days at a time. Finally, our older sister came to our rescue.

To me she was perfect and anything she wanted from me was ok. I was so glad to be where someone wanted me. She was very beautiful and I wanted to be just like her. The time came when she did ask something of me. My sister told me there were friends of hers that liked me and it would make her happy if I would spend time with them and do what they told me to.  Well her friends were involved in the occult I didn’t know what that was but for the next couple of years

I found out. I was 11 then and I was told this is what I was supposed to do. So I was used for special services for sex, with anyone I was told to. After about 3 years I was no longer used. Then I found out there were others my sister knew who liked me.

I continued on doing the same things, only not in occult ways. This continued and actually I thought this was how it was supposed to be. I went to school but was told not to ever say anything because she wasn’t supposed to take me from my mom. I never said anything and grew to like what I did. I thought this was the way people showed how they liked you. I could go to bed with anyone but I couldn’t talk to them or even eat in front of them because that was something I never did.

I was home on a Mon. and was looking for Jerry Springer on TV. I clicked over channels looking and came across a station that was giving an altar call and singing Just As I Am. I had never thought about being a Christian, didn’t know God, I liked my new age life BUT MY FINGER COULD NOT MOVE.  This is true, it would not. I saw everything going on and it was a man named Benny Hinn, I had never heard of him.

Listening to him, seeing the people, I started to cry and then I got on my knees and asked Jesus to come into my life. I didn’t really know what I had done so I called the lady I had worked with. We had become friends by then and I knew she prayed for me daily. I told her what had happened and she prayed with me on the phone. That week I started going to Bible study

A scripture that I stood on is in Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to

the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. That was certainly me in the beginning. Then God gave me this scripture Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord.  That is how I am living today: trusting In Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. He is my best friend, and I am learning everyday to let Him have control of all parts of my life.

I GOT A GLIMPSE OF GOD’S GRACE TO US
by Jill

I came from a broken home. Broken is a good description, that’s exactly how I felt. I remember crying myself to sleep at night. I would have given anything for my parents to get back together, but it never happened.

I had asked Jesus into my heart when I was little, but there were many weeds in the garden & growth was stunted. I started doing drugs when I was 11 & a few years later my only brother was killed. I felt like everyone I had ever loved had left me.

Then, I met my husband, my Knight in Shining Armour, and I thought he could take me away from all my problems. At first, things were great. I even stopped doing drugs….for a while, but when the pressures of every day life came rushing in, I found myself rushing out to get high. I eventually ended up prostituting myself to support my habit over the first 10 years of our marriage.

In 1984, I had been gone on a binge for two weeks. My husband had every right to divorce me according to Biblical law, but someone suggested he read the book of Hosea first. In chapter 2, God promises to make Gomer a faithful wife to Hosea after she had been a prostitute, so my husband decided to give me one last chance.

On the other side of town, God was working on me. I heard Him say, “Jill, you’ve gone far enough! If you don’t leave this place right now, your heart will become to hard and you won’t be able to hear My voice any more.” I immediately sobered and went home.

One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is look into my husband’s tear filled eyes & tell him what I had been doing & ask for his forgiveness. He loved me so much he forgave me, and at that moment, I got a glimpse of God’s grace to us and His faithful endurance.

It has not been an easy road, we really do reap what we sow. I have a mind cluttered with dark memories that surface at just the wrong time. Whenever I am tempted to sin in any way, I look up and see those tear filled eyes again, but they’re not my husband’s, they’re my Savior’s, Jesus Christ. There’s no way I want to hurt anyone like that again.

Those verses in Hosea have become very special to me. Over the years God has allowed me to minister to many different people through them. We all at some time or other commit adultery against God by the things we place preeminent in our lives that should only be occupied by Him. But God is faithful to finish the work He has started in us and see it through to completion.

I FELT LIKE I NEEDED TO TAKE MY BIBLE WITH ME
by Erin Butler

When I was 16, my Academic Decathlon team made it to the state competition in Clarksville, Tennessee. I was packing, when all of the sudden, I felt like I needed to take my Bible with me. I didn’t know why, but I felt like it would come in handy.

So, one night, in our hotel room, I pulled out the Bible and began to read, first to myself.

My best friend, Casey, who doesn’t normally go to church, came over to my bed and asked if she could read with me! I was like, SURE! That was great! My first opportunity to witness!

Then I thought, “There is so much I wanted to tell her! Where do I start!?” So, I pulled up my favorite verse, Psalms 105. I just really like it!

Then, the other girls in our room wanted to read too! I was just amazed! So, I thanked God, and we had our own little bible study. It was just really cool, to be able to witness to people like that.

It actually inspired me to go to Mexico that summer and do door to door evangelism and build houses and have vacation bible school for the “ninos and ninas” of the colonia. It was a life changing experience. Thanks for listening!

IT WAS LIKE I HAD NEVER BEEN IN A CHURCH BEFORE
by Brian Neal

When I was growing up, my family wasn’t Christian.

We didn’t talk about God and I didn’t know anything about Him. My family was not church-going at all. I went to church sometimes with my grandfather, or my my other grandparents. God and religion were never talked about, not even at Christmas or Easter. We never knew the real reasons behind those holidays when we were growing up, and I remember going to church and not knowing anything about what was being said in the sermons I was hearing.

When I was twelve, my parents divorced. It was not a good time in my house, and it was not an amicable split between my parents. To this day I am still struggling with the decisions my father made and ultimately, the separation and distance that I still feel towards him today. So we moved in with my father’s “girlfriend.” She’s my step-mom now and I love her very much. She is a very godly woman whose faith is evident in her life from the moment you talk to her. But growing up, it was not always the case. Shirley and her son and daughter went to church sometimes, but not regularly. We attended the occasional youth class and then Church service, but I never saw it more than anything as a chance to goof off with friends. I remember chewing Copenhagen and drinking Dr. Peppers in the back pew most of the time.

After I started High School, Church was never a thought. I played football, and there was prayer before and after games in the locker room, but God was never something that ever mattered to me. I wasn’t interested in it and I was doing fine. My junior year I dropped football, rather it dropped me. My grades were so bad, I could not keep playing. And eventually I got in with the drug and alcohol crowd. Eventually school didn’t matter, I had a job to go to and so I decided to quit. I remember standing in the attendance office at school. I asked for the forms to fill out to quit. The lady behind the counter wanted to call my dad first to make sure it was ok, and I remember the lady talking to him on the phone. He never asked to talk to me at all. She hung up and I quit school. From then on it was sex, drugs and rock and roll! I never looked back.

My life was not bad, but it wasn’t anything like it could have been, and certainly nothing that I was proud of. There is not a drug that you can name, that I haven’t at least seen…. and very few that I have not put into my body. You name it, I’ve been around it, or sold it, or knew people who did. It is a wonder, and I know now, it was by God’s Grace alone, that I didn’t end up in prison, or dead.

Fast forward to age 28. I was working for Ozarka in Ft. Worth. My supervisor was beautiful, and I’m sure still is to this day. She is a very devout Christian woman, with a great husband and two beautiful kids. Every day I would hear her radio in the warehouse office, tuned to Dr. Charles Stanley. Eventually that led her to sharing her faith in Jesus Christ with me and I became more interested. She was a great influence and really helped me to understand how far of course I had gotten.

Seven years later, while still at Ozarka, I began to date a girl. She was also a Christian, but led a very open lifestyle. She went to church occasionally, but she didn’t really live it. She was caring, and friendly, and really a great person. But I know now that she was not where we should all be in our faith. The drugs continued, although on a very, very low occurrence rate. But we weren’t hurting anyone. We had our small circle of friends that we hung out with. The whole time, I continued to date other girls. Traci and I had never lived together, we often did our own thing, and we would go for a week or ten days or two weeks without seeing each other. We understood that we still had our own separate lives. But occasionally, I would go to Church with her and her folks.

Eventually, she gave me something that I still have to this day, my very own Bible. It even had my name on it, and I knew then that I had to make a change to start on a different path in my life. I started reading it sometimes, carrying it with me. But I never actually made any great changes I was still living the same lifestyle, although it wasn’t nearly like it was, it was still not the way it was supposed to be, and I was just going through the motions.

Then I met another girl while at Ozarka. I still talk to her often, and she was someone I liked to hang out with. I never knew how God would use her in my life. Eventually she moved to Houston. Houston was originally home for her, and after being offered a job back home, she went. Over the year or two after she left, we stayed in touch. E-mailed back and forth all the time and kept up with each other. As it turned out, she was very involved with the Pasadena Rodeo, and the Pasadena Strawberry festival. She volunteered out there on the beverage committee and in 2001 she invited me to come down to the festival. I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to introduce her to a friend of mine. So, I picked up my friend and went to the festival. As I introduced him, she introduced her friend…. Jeannie. I thought she was really cute, and we talked some and had a nice time at the festival, but I didn’t think really about it more than that. But something happened. We stayed in touch.

After several months of e-mails and phone calls, I decided to go back to Houston for a visit. And this time when I saw her, I knew, I was in love. Visits became more regular, and I met her parents and I also visited her Church. It was like I had never been in a church before. The people there made me feel welcome, and I actually listened to a sermon, I think for the first time. At the end of the sermon was the time of invitation. I didn’t go that first time there, but eventually I felt God tugging at my heart, and I knew that this series of events was meant to be. It was part of a bigger plan than I could ever imagine. So, one Sunday after service, I decided to give my life to Christ. I made a public profession of faith in Baptism. And it was in Jennie’s parents’ pool that I was raised to walk in the light of His glory.

Since that time, God has graced me with Jeannie becoming my wife. Her daughter Kimberly is now my beautiful stepdaughter, of whom I am so proud, and also he has blessed me with a son, Jacob.

A man wonders what he will become, what his own family will be like, his kids and his wife. If I could have seen into the future so long ago, I would have never believed the blessings and joy that he has given me. I know now that I am so unworthy of the gifts he has given me, and I pray every day now, to be a man that can live up to those gifts. I strive to be worthy of the things he has given me. I strive to be a good father and husband, role model for my kids, teacher and youth leader. Most of all, I strive to have the firmness in my faith to proclaim to not only the world, but to my Mother and Father and brother and sisters, that Jesus Christ, is truly…my Lord and Savior. He is my salvation. He is my constant cheering section. He is the one who loves me with an unimaginable grace and glory. And I know that I will never be able to repay him for the price he paid.

Thank you God almighty. Thank you for being in me. Thank you for your love and blessings. My faith in You will forever be my guidance and my life. Amen.

KEEP GOD IN THE CENTER OF YOUR LIFE
by Brandy

I found your website on Mr. Billy Graham’s website. You’ve done an excellent job. I am so glad God put it in your heart to create the site.

For about a week now, I’ve had an urge to tell someone what has happened to me in the past 6 weeks that has brought me much closer to God than anything ever has before. The story isn’t really finished yet, because I don’t know what the final outcome will be; but this is just to encourage anyone, if you want to post it, to keep God in the center of your life and to lean on HIS understanding, not our own.

I was fired from my job as a bank teller in May. I was fired for theft. How on earth I ever found myself in this kind of a situation, I still can’t comprehend. By looking at me, you’d never think I am the type of person to commit any sort of crime at all. Married, mom of 3 kids, hard worker, will help any one who needs any help. Always with a smile on my face and always laughing about something. But here I am today, with no job and probably no professional reputation left to even attempt re-entering the work force.

The devil is sneakier than you would ever think he is. We all say, oh, I will know it when the devil is trying to lead me to do something wrong. Sorry, but I’ll be the first to tell you, if you don’t keep close to God, you’ll never have the first clue when the devil decides to use to bring us down to his level. And temptation isn’t the only tool Satan has. There’s fear, pride, and desperation. And he uses these things to his fullest ability. These three tools of Satan are what drove me to make the choices I made. Desperation and fear put thoughts in my head: “How am I going to buy groceries? How am I going to be able to put gas in my car to get to work? How am I going to be able to pay for [my oldest son’s and my husband’s] dental bills? How?” And it was the fear of having to have these things, but not making enough money to afford them, that made me go a little nuts. Pride kept me from asking people in my family for help, even though they’ve offered it…and desperation drove me to just take a little, here and there, out of my working cash to deposit in the bank account to cover checks for bills, gas, and groceries.

Over the course of about six, seven months, I had taken over $5,000. For that length of time, I was constantly sick at my stomach, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t think. Satan just loves it when we have such severe anxiety that we can’t eat or sleep. He probably dances a jig and laughs.

It was during an audit when my “shortage” was discovered. The next day, I was fired, and restitution was ordered. I thank God every day for having the earthly father He gave me. My dad was there with me that whole next day. He went and made a loan to repay the amount I was out. At the end of that week, a detective called me to “talk” as he said. I met with him that following Monday, and was arrested – I had no idea that any of this was going to happen — but again, I give thanks to our Father that I have the family I have. A cousin works in law enforcement, and quickly set about getting me out of there, without having to post bail or do a property bond. My mother came and paid the small processing fee and picked me up.

The following Sunday, I attended church at a small church close by to my home. I had visited that church before, but was technically a member of another church in a larger town about 20 miles away. I had not attended any services in quite a while, although I had been baptized about a year and a half before. But during that week before the service, I prayed, more than I ever have in my life. I asked God to sustain me through this ordeal, to direct me to the place He wanted me to be, not where I wanted to be. And He used my neighbor to remind me of that little church.

When I went to that Sunday morning service, the message was about keeping God at the center of our lives. I listened and I listened hard. The more I listened, the more I realized that I had never made a true commitment to our Lord. I had not kept Him at the center of my life. Because I had not done this, I found myself at the lowest point of my life, ever. Even when I threw my first husband out because of his drug abuse, I wasn’t this low — because these circumstances I brought on myself entirely. That sermon I feel is what saved me.

I want people to know, that even when you think you won’t be able to keep a roof over your head, when you’re worried about feeding your family and keeping electricity on and gas in your car, keep God at the center of your life. He will take care of you! Like Jesus said, our Father cares for the sparrow — how much more will he care for us? Don’t let stupid pride keep you from asking for help. Don’t let the fear of worst-scenario circumstances cause anxiety to eat you up inside. Don’t let desperation drive you to do things that are illegal, because no amount of justification will make it “all right”. I am so thankful that God saw what I was doing and that He brought it to an end because He knew that I was just going to keep digging a hole that I wouldn’t be able to ever get out of, no matter how intent I was on replacing the money.

Thank you for allowing me to tell you this story. I think God’s been wanting me to tell someone because there’s probably somebody out there who might be getting to that point of desperation, and I don’t want them to listen to Satan’s lies like I did. Bless you and your family.

You Mean…I Can Still Be Happy?

Note from Eric: Dara has been a Christian for some time, but she couldn’t believe it when one day she felt God was saying that she could still be happy even after all she had been through. She was soon flooded with a joy she had never felt before. 

YOU MEAN…I CAN STILL BE HAPPY?
by Dara

Hi. My name is Dara, and I live in Georgia. I felt I needed to share this testimony. I’ve been saved for a while now, but for a long time I’ve had trouble trusting God totally. I knew God loved me and that’s why He saved my soul, but I wanted to do everything on my own. I suppose it’s a mix of pride and fear – I was proud of my own perceived strength and believed I could make it on my own, but at the same time I was afraid to trust God. What if He asks me to do something I don’t want to do? What if I need something and He doesn’t come through?

Then, on a day that I thought was just like any other day, I woke up and started getting ready for work. The last six months, it seemed as though the devil had been attacking me from every side. First my grandfather died of cancer, then my uncle died of a heart attack, my mom got divorced from my stepfather, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, and my sister moved to Japan. I had been down for a long time, and I was so very lonely. I felt like no one in the world cared about my pain, and I was so alone. In my mind I cried out to God in despair, “God, why am I so alone?” I didn’t really expect an answer.

I was completely stunned when the next moment God spoke to me, saying simply, “Trust me.” I’m not saying I heard voices, but it was so clear in my mind, there was no doubt who it was. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I just prayed, “Okay, God. Just help me.” Later, while I was driving to work, I turned the radio on. On what I thought was a whim I turned it to a popular Christian station in my area. I don’t know the name of the song, but the first words I heard were, “Life is precious, life is sweet…” I laughed to myself, feeling the irony of the words. Does that guy live on the same planet I live on? Doesn’t he know life is full of loneliness and pain? Then, God spoke to me again. This time His words struck home with such relevance that I could not ignore them – He said, “I didn’t save you so that you would be miserable.” I thought, You mean that after everything I’ve been through I can still be happy? Then I realized that if God loved me, as I believed He did, of course He wanted me to be happy.

The next Sunday at church, though, was what really changed my attitude. At the end of the service that pastor gave an altar call, and I felt this tremendous conviction burning in my chest. I felt the tears welling in my eyes before I even reached the altar. All I wanted was to lean on someone else for a little while, so I stood at the altar and I cried and I prayed, “God just touch me. God I need you.” Then one of the elders of our church came up to me and said that shortly after waking one morning the past week, during his prayer time, God had made him think of me, and he had prayed for me. He said, “God hasn’t forgotten you. He knows you miss that grandpa.” After he said that God had caused him to pray for me, something inside of me seemed to crumble, and this joy and peace came over me. I’ve never felt joy like that before.

In the moment of my despair, when I thought I was all alone in the world, God caused someone across town to pray for me. I will never forget the moment when I realized that God cared about my feelings. Emotionally I’ve been on my own my whole life, but He promised me that day that I would never be alone as long as I trusted in Him. Psalms 9:10 says, “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” I guess the bottom line is, God cares about the entire you – not just your soul, but also your body, your mind, and your heart. He doesn’t want you to suffer unnecessarily. Trusting in God is no guarantee that you will never experience pain, but you will never be alone. Even when you fall, and you and I both will, as long as you keep getting back up, you cannot fail. Since I’ve started trusting God my walk has grown so much stronger, and continues to grow. Mankind may let you down, but God never will.

My Son, There Is A Jesus

Note from Eric: Paul could literally feel the forces of good and evil pulling him as he battled to stay alive.  But God answered his prayers when the Spirit of God zapped him with what felt like an electric shock that saved both him and his mother on the same night, causing his mom to declare, “My Son, there is a Jesus.”

MY SON, THERE IS A JESUS
by Paul Albrecht

During most of my teenage years I did not care much about Jesus and considered people who did rather boring. I didn’t realize how wrong I was.

My parents were very unhappy people and my step-father was always drunk. My mother was a good and hardworking woman but the financial burdens of our seven member household really got to her, perhaps even more than constantly having to manage a drunk husband who was always confronting her, trying very hard to cause a row.

My mother and stepfather never went to church at that time (may I gratefully and speedily add that today they are both saved and are very involved in their local church – PRAISE JESUS!!!)

At that time my mother believed that people die like plants. That there is no here-after and that life on earth is the sum-total of it all.

I was an unhappy child too. I didn’t socialize much with other kids my own age. On several occasions older people enticed me to smoke marijuana with them (dagga – as it is called in South Africa.)

On the very first occasion the man I had smoked it with started dancing in front of me and said: “Now you are one of us.” His dance movements seemed very evil and I became very aware of evil around me. I began to pray for the first time in a very, very long time.

I felt awful and while praying it was like the Lord turned away from me in anger and would not listen to me. I kept on praying in my mind while this man danced in front of me and then, after hours had passed (or so it seemed) suddenly my prayers were answered and the “spaced out” feeling this drug caused in my mind passed away.

I felt great and as I looked at this man and said: “you can stop now – I have sobered up – I am not one of you – now please leave this room!” I noticed extreme anger in him. His wife walked into the room and requested that he left me alone. He reluctantly did, leaving me very aware of my first encounter with a visible manifestation of demonic activity through the use of drugs.

As the years passed by I often spoke of this incident and vowed never to use drugs again. Then, when I finished the compulsory military service for my country, my old school-friend, James, invited me to an athletic meeting in a nearby town. James played the drums in their church band and I remember how often during our school years I tried to persuade him to abandon these “dumb” beliefs in Jesus Christ.

After the sports function I suggested we go to a nearby hotel for a few drinks. I really felt challenged to prove to this “boring Christian” how nice being a “normal person” can be.

We soon had two drinks each after which James suggested we “have a joint”. Well, I was stunned! If Christians could smoke this stuff then surely it must be ok! I thought that perhaps my evil experience with the stuff could have been hallucinations.

We had the “joints” – and I ran into the same demonic manifestations again. James’ face changed into an evil face and his laugh was not normal. Despite the fact that at school I had always been the leader, I felt very afraid of him and did what he told me to do.

After riding around with me in his car, his music blaring away and my hands running uncontrollably all over my own body, he took me home. Once there he shouted at me that their pastor supplied the youth with marijuana and that I could join them at the church to partake in their activities. (This pastor he spoke of once came to our house when I was ill, to pray for me and actually touched my genitals while I was lying in bed!) My mother thought it was funny when I told her of this afterwards. I was about fifteen years old then.

Once James had finally left our house, I had a very strong urge to commit suicide. I was convinced, and actually sensed that the grace of God had left me because I was disobedient to our past agreement. I went out of the house, intending to go to the nearby lake and drown myself.

It was late at night and as I got outside my parents arrived home from their night out. They walked into the house. I felt a very strong urge to get to my mother and yet something else forced me to the lake. Then, with great difficulty I reached the front door and called out : “Mother!”

I knew I would probably be in trouble again for my stepfather hated me and my mother would also be angry if I upset my stepdad. Yet she came to the door and immediately led me by my hand to the bedroom I shared with my little brother. She made me tell her exactly what happened during the course of the evening.

While I was busy doing this her eyes suddenly rolled back in her head and in a deep mans’ voice she started saying: “In the name of Jesus I command you to get out – get out – get out”. She kept on and on repeating these words and while this was happening, her hands clasped so firmly around mine that I could not free my hands from her grip at all.

I was taller and bigger than her at this age (19) yet could not free myself. It was painful as I felt something like an electric shock coming from her hands, almost like the normal 220-volt wall plug supplies.

This power ran through my hands down to my feet and began filling up my entire body. It felt like all my insides were being pushed out my mouth. My brother told me later that it looked like I was going to explode the way my veins swelled up and I began making animal sounds, screaming in between that I would not get out.

During this ordeal I cursed her, then begged her and wished I could hit her. Then, after this whole process repeated itself six times, I began to calm down while my mother returned to normal saying: “Thank you, Jesus, thank you, Jesus” on and on.

We both started crying and my mother said: “My son, there is a Jesus!” I felt completely sober and calm while we had coffee in absolute silence in the kitchen with tears running over our cheeks.

I knew I was loved by a force greater than any man could ever describe! I knew Jesus is alive and that he loved us! I wanted to shout it out – leave my past ways and focus only on him.

Yet I did not. Only three years after that I really became saved when I was down and out, after having lost my job and had to move out the house I was renting. I prayed very hard and asked the Lord to speak to me through His word. I randomly opened the Bible and my eyes fell upon the words: “take off your shoes because the ground you are standing on is Holy ground.”

I fell on my face and felt my skin crawl as the Holy presence of the Lord overcame me, and touched me again. Since then I have never been the same again.

I make a point of remembering the incident with my mother, how real it was and because my mother does not drink or smoke, I know that it was impossible for BOTH of us to have hallucinated. No sir, that was real and everyone saw it. Jesus is alive and at work in our lives. He decided that night to call both of us to Him, and He used a woman who did not even believe in Him at the time.

I have made peace with my stepfather in this time and we have very pleasant conversations now. My mother goes to bible-study groups to learn more and my stepfather also attends church very regularly. He has given up drinking AND smoking.

My brother became saved and two of my sisters gave their hearts to Jesus. Only one sister still has a drinking problem. She is the only child my stepfather had with my mother. I know that at the right time the Lord will call her too.

I praise Him and glorify Him. I want all those people who are bound the empty and temporary pleasures of this world to know that Jesus can overcome every moment of loneliness, hate, sadness, depression, rejection and turn it into victory, joy, achievement, strength and goodness.

If you are sad for some reason, take it to the Lord in prayer. But not only this, study His word, the Bible, where He will speak to you individually and give you the answers to your life. Just let Him in, He is trying to. He will not force his way. He is giving LIFE free, all you need to do is TAKE IT. You will never be sorry you did!!!

The Bridge Went Down

Note from Eric: Shannon was a teenager with little church background when she heard a story about a man who worked at a railway bridge.  When she realized the story was about what God did for her through Jesus, and she put her faith in him that night.

THE BRIDGE WENT DOWN
by Shannon Blacklock

I didn’t believe I was a child of god in the beginning. Sure, I had read the bible stories book in the doctor’s offices growing up. I even had a few friends that didn’t swear.

When I started going to a youth group at church, it was only because my friends went. One night our youth group went to a concert.  It started off as a music concert. They sang, we sang, I sang. But I didn’t believe anything I was singing.

Then a man came on the stage. As he talked, I realized how wrong I was. He was talking and laughing and joking. And he told us a story.

This is the story in my words:

Once there was a man who had a son and no wife. He worked at a bridge. Everyday he would push a button to make the bridge go down so the train could come over it. He did this every afternoon.

One day the boy’s school had a free day and the boy decided to come down to his dad’s work and kick a football around at the foot of the bridge. While he was playing his dad was looking down on him.

“That’s my boy” he was saying “I love that kid. He’s a part of me and I love him so much.”

At 2:45 p.m. he started to prepare for the train to come. He looked down for his son. His son wasn’t at the foot of the tower. He looked around and couldn’t see him. He opened the window and called out “Son, where are you?” But his son didn’t answer him.

The train was nearly there. He could hear it puffing in the distance. He looked out the window and saw his son, stuck under the bridge.

“Dad. Help me! I can’t get out!” The boy was screaming.

The man thought hard. He didn’t have enough time to come down from the tower and free the boy. He didn’t have time to do that and come back and let the bridge back.

The train was nearly here. If the bridge stayed up all the people would fall into the river and drown. There were over 300 people on that train. He was biting his nails and his son was calling Dad! Help me! and the train was coming closer.

The man got frantic. He pulled at his hair and scratched his chest and knew what he had to do. He pushed the button. The bridge went down and killed his son.

The man stood in the tower and screamed. He cried and sobbed because he had killed his son. The train rushed past.

A few people waved. A few people looked worried because the man was crying. A few people came back later. But most just kept going. The man had killed his son, his own son who he cherished, to save some people he didn’t know, and most who didn’t care.

This is what God did for us. He sacrificed his son for us.  People who didn’t even know him.  We must be the ones that help the train man over his sorrow. We must go back to our God. Our God who saved us all.

At the end of this story I was crying. I walked out to the front and screamed out: “GOD! ARE YOU LISTENING! I WANT TO COME FOR YOU! I LIVE ONLY FOR YOU! I LOVE YOU GOD! PLEASE ACCEPT ME! I BELIEVE I BELIEVE.”

Here I just broke down and started crying and then we all went off and the pastors gave us a free bible and told us about how we could help our Lord.

Since then my life has changed. For the better. I want to get into heaven and I know that want will never change my mind, even if people kill me for my beliefs. I believe in our Lord, Our God, our Savior, Jesus Christ and I never want to look back.

If you want to live.  If you want to see the ultimate light. Turn to God. And he will show you the way.

Tomorrow May Not Be Mine

Note from Eric: As a wife and mother of two children, the unthinkable happened when Joy was in a car accident that broke her neck.  As she lay in the hospital, she had to face whether or not she was ready for what’s to come beyond this life.

TOMORROW MAY NOTE BE MINE
by Joy Schroeder

Stories of tragedy often begin by stating “that fateful day began like any other.”  That should warn us to be suspicious of days like that. Of course, I was not suspicious on March 14, 1987 and went to the grocery store instead.

As I left the parking area with my car full of chicken etc., I was hit by a speeding car driven by a young man having a very good time. The impact knocked me unconscious and broke my neck. The firemen spent an hour using the Jaws of Life to get me out of the car.

I woke up on the ground with many worried faces looking down on me. I couldn’t move and I struggled for breath. Something was very wrong. At the same time, great peace came over me like a comforting blanket. I wondered how those two feelings could  happen simultaneously: peace, when something was wrong. It was the first of many  miraculous interventions by God during the next few months and years.

During the first few hours in the hospital, the doctors and nurses worked soberly. I knew it was bad; I had lost a friend to a broken neck shortly before. Dick, my husband, leaned over me and, tight-lipped and pale, said, “The doctor gives you a 50-50 chance of living.”

I didn’t want to die. I had two small children to raise and a marriage to accomplish. I began to look back over how I had invested the time given me so far. It was as if I were standing in my house, hand on the door knob of my front door, looking back to see if all was in order before I locked the door and left for a very long trip.

I was pleased and comforted with some investments I had made in my life. I had been grateful to my mother and told her I loved her. Dick and I had done what was necessary to get our marriage on stable ground again. I had made career changes in order to spend time with the children. I knew that parents only have a little time to invest in them while they are children. No one knows how little time some may have. There was no one I had not forgiven and no one to whom I still needed to make things right. The relief was enormous.

Then, there were the regrets — wrongs against God and people. I was facing the eternal, and for all practical purposes, unknown. I was pressing against that thin membrane between this life and what would happen to me beyond. I knew better than to carry in a bundle of good deeds hoping they would outweigh the bad. What a futile concept.

Long before this day I had asked Jesus to forgive each act I regretted; he said his death paid for them. But I still felt a little vulnerable. I was afraid I may soon be entering his presence with only that as my ticket to the Good Place. Was it enough? Was it true? I leaned back on the homework I had done. The people that lived with Jesus wrote down his words when he said that his death was enough payment and that he forgave me when I asked. I believed what he said was true. So, I let it rest.

I lived on, however, with hands and legs paralyzed. I’m accomplishing my marriage and raising our children. I understand how swiftly life can be taken or dramatically changed. So, I keep my accounts short with God and other people. I ask forgiveness, and I forgive. And I tell those that mean something to me that they do. Tomorrow may not be mine.

I Felt The Most Amazing Peace

Note from Eric: Lisa was a teenager who had been sexually abused, consumed with rage and very depressed.  On the night she planned to take her life, she got hope from a Christian radio program.  One month later, she said a prayer and felt “the most amazing peace.”  She concludes, “And it has never left.”

I FELT THE MOST AMAZING PEACE
by Lisa Sutter

I am 19 years old and will be 20 in May (written in April, 1996). I got saved when I was 13. I met these two identical twin Christians. I didn’t know they were Christians when I first met them but I knew they were different from me. But I wasn’t sure exactly how.

I was raised in church, went to religion classes and went to church every Sunday. So I knew about God but I didn’t know Him in a personal way at all. The twins started asking me to go with them to their youth group.

I couldn’t during the school year because their youth group met on the same night as my religion class. But then in early June I did go and it changed my life. The twins had started a prayer group during the lunch hour at our junior high.

There I met the youth pastor at their church. The twins arranged for him to pick me up and take me to the youth group. On the way there, John started asking me all these questions about religion (if I believed in God stuff like that). Then he asked me to repeat a prayer. I did.

I will never forget what he said afterwards. He said “Lisa, if you were sincere when you prayed that prayer you’ve just accepted Christ as your personal Savior.” Then he congratulated me.

Then when we got to youth group. He took up me in front of the other kids and introduced me. Then he put his arm around my shoulders and said “Lisa just accepted Christ as her Personal Savior.” Everyone in the room started clapping and cheering. The other kids started congratulating me and shaking my hand and giving me hugs. So that’s how I met the Lord.

The next year, 8th grade, was great except I wasn’t growing at all in my new found faith. But the next year, my freshman year was the most awful year I have ever had. I had so many traumatic things happen to me. I had a friend die in a car crash. She was 14 and she got hit by a car while riding her bike. I had 6 friends try to kill themselves including one Christian.

But probably the worst thing was that I was sexually abused by a 67 year old neighbor.  I was 16. The way we met was that he was on my paper route.

One day he came out and handed me a dozen donuts for me to take home. He lived on the same street as I do. I was really surprised but I didn’t say anything. His wife had died the year before so I felt sorry for him because he lived alone. So when he started asking me to do things on the weekends I was happy to. We would go shopping, take drives in the country, go out to eat.

At first he asked my brother to come along but gradually he stopped asking my brother. I remember that my neighbor would tell me I was very pretty and he would put his arm around my shoulders. That really made me uncomfortable but I never said anything. He frequently took my picture too. Once when I told him not to.

Then April came and I got really hot on my paper route so when he asked me to sit on the porch with him and have a glass of cool water I readily agreed because I totally trusted him. Then I did something that I realize now was dumb, but like I said I totally trusted him. So when he asked me to come inside his house I did.

He wanted to know everything about me. If he saw me with a friend he would ask “Where did you go, who was your friend?” Then one day I stood up to leave and he hugged me so tightly the breath is literally squeezed right out of me. Then he kisses me on the cheek. I didn’t know what else to do so I kissed him on the cheek.

He would do that every day. Hug me like that so I couldn’t move. The kisses moved from my cheek to my lips. Just quick ones at first but eventually they got passionate. Similar to how a long term boyfriend or girlfriend would kiss you. I was disgusted.

I remember walking home and thinking what did I do to deserve that? Did I lead him on? I walked into my house and went straight to my room. It wasn’t too long before my mom came in. She asked me what was wrong. I said nothing. She prompted me and finally asked “Did that man do something to you?”

I started sobbing and told her what had happened. The first thing she said after I told her was “Don’t tell anyone outside the family.” Even now I don’t know why but it only caused me to blame myself even more. I felt so many different emotions. But I kept them inside. I talked to friends about what happened but I didn’t tell them how it made me feel. So I was consumed by rage.

It scared me because any little thing my mom did could set me off and I could feel this rage boiling inside me. But eventually it went away. Then in my sophomore year of high school I started having panic attacks. At one time I was having as many 8-10 a day. But thankfully I haven’t had one in over 2 years. I was also extremely suicidal during my freshman year.

My neighbor harassed me for about a year and a half. He kept asking me to do the things we had always done. He offered me money on 3 different occasions. Then he left me alone for over a year.

Then in August of 1994 he stalked me for 3 weeks. Once he followed me from one end of the street to the other in his car. Then when I turned to corner he would go home. And every day he would come outside and just stare at me while I was on my route. Then on August 19, 1994 he died. He had always had a bad heart and died of a heart attack.

I have never felt so relieved in my entire life. I was actually happy but felt guilty for feeling happy. You aren’t supposed to feel happy when someone dies.

In about August 95 I got really really depressed again. One Sunday, October 1 1995, I decided I had had enough. I decided to try to kill myself that night.

But thankfully back in February I had discovered a nationwide Christian call in show called Dawson McAllister Live! It’s a show for people 21 and younger. It just so happened that night’s topic was Suicide. So I called in. That show gets between 10 and 20 thousand calls every night. So I prayed “Lord if you want me to stick around please make sure I get to talk to Dawson or I won’t be here much longer.” And the Lord delivered.

Dawson’s staff called back and told me that they were going to put me on the air. So I talked to Dawson and then I called his off-air “let’s talk” line called the Hopeline. That is all that kept me from killing myself. God telling the man I talked to what I needed to hear to save my life. I give God all the glory for saving my life.

Then about a month later I got down on my knees and I prayed. After I finished I felt the most amazing peace. And it has never left. It is still very difficult for me to deal the what my neighbor did to me. I have come a long way, but I still have a long way to go. I still have very low self-esteem but I am no longer suicidal. I know that God will bring me complete healing and that this experience will be used to minister to other people. And this experience has really strengthened my faith and I think made me a better person.

Ever Since I Challenged God

Note from Eric:  Vicki tried everything she could think of to escape from the abuse others had inflicted on her and that she had inflicted on herself.  But when she was invited to church for the first time in 15 years, she heard about something she’d never tried before.  After “challenging” God to prove himself she now says, “My life turned around completely and has never been the same!”

EVER SINCE I CHALLENGED GOD
by Vicki

My name is Vicki, born in Pennsylvania in September, 1968. In my short life I had endured quite a bit of abuse; I had been raped by a male acquaintance of my mother’s at age 5, then verbally, physically and sexually abused by my older brother from ages 7 to 17, and raped twice by an uncle at age 19.

As a result of the sexual abuse and violence that occurred, it led me into a path of destructive behavior and a life of utter confusion and feelings of inadequacy.

I firmly believe that due to the abuse and sexual violence endured, it resulted in me dealing with many problems and psychiatric issues.

From an early age I struggled with feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anger and hatred toward men. As a child I was in therapy, a bed-wetter, was attracted to girls, had strong desires to be a boy and often dressed as a boy. As I entered my teen years, I endured a sexual identity crisis, dealt with self-destructive behavior, developed anorexia and bulimia, was an alcoholic, dabbled in drugs, was in and out of therapy and entered the Marines.

By early adulthood I continued therapy, was causing self-inflicted injuries on my body as a way of coping, in and out of Eating Disorder Units and psychiatric hospitals, dealt with suicidal tendencies, bouted with numerous suicide attempts, was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance, clinical depression and Borderline Personality Disorder (BDP).

By age 25 I had self-injured my body by cutting and burning (1, 5″ scar & 1, 4″ scar from 3rd degree burns & over 250 scars from cutting). I had been involved in various relationships (dysfunctional, abusive, one night stands), led a homosexual lifestyle, was in a gang, had an abortion, claimed bankruptcy due to high medical bills, was on psychotherapeutic medication (17 pills daily), had battled with mental illness and was in and out of psychiatric hospitals.

As I approached 27, I was dependent on psychotherapeutic medications, totally exasperated and felt as though I was just existing and taking up space. I was at a point in my life that although I doubted anything could be better, I was looking for my life to change.

Although I thought I had tried everything possible to get better, somehow I was still open for help. It seemed that whatever I tried that it was only good for a few hours, a day, sometimes if I got “lucky” it lasted a couple days.

I was not brought up around church or anything godly. Although I doubted a lot of things about God, one Sunday in March of 1995 I was invited to church and reluctantly went. It was my first time going to a church in over 15 years, and this was no church like I had ever been to. From the moment I stepped through the doors, I sensed something different.

When I walked into that church in New Jersey I remember sensing such love and peace. (I honestly thought it would be over once I left). I wasn’t quite sure what my beliefs were, mainly Agnostic, as I spent most of my life blaming God or questioning Him why all this happened to me. I was at a point of my life where I was not ready to be let down again.

All I knew was that when I walked into that church, I felt great and didn’t remember feeling so much peace like that before. And I knew it was real. No medication made me feel this alert and alive, I knew it just had to be real.

I wanted so much to be normal but had no clue how to do it, as everything else I tried proved a failure. After going to that church I asked God to make himself real to me. Within days I noticed that I was more peaceful, able to think clearly and the negative desires I had were not so strong. Even though to an outsider that would seem so small of a change, however, for me it was a big thing just to see a change, at that moment I knew that God was real!

A few weeks later, I bought a Bible and it opened right up to the book of Mark, and I began reading in chapter 5. As I read, I saw that a guy who had cut himself day and night and appeared to have mental illness; he was healed by Jesus. I became very agitated with God and threw the Bible to the floor. I just didn’t understand why I wasn’t well; if he had healed this guy so long ago.

I began to yell at God: “!@#* you God, if you are real, then why the hell can’t you help me? Why can’t you do for me what you did years ago for that guy? I’m tired so tired of this !@#*, and tired of living this way. Don’t you understand that I’m tired of crying all night long, cutting and drinking because I cannot cope? Life isn’t supposed to be this way. I don’t want mental illness. Please help me.”

I do realize now that swearing to God may not have been the best thing, but at that time I wasn’t accustomed to talking with Him and tried my best to be nice. After saying this, I pleaded with God, I truly petitioned him for his help.

I figured my last resort was this God who I wasn’t even so sure about. I put all my doubts aside and immediately I began to pray to God, actually I challenged him that I wanted answers and that I would give him 3 weeks to “prove himself” to me. Even though I wasn’t sure if I believed in God, I thought it would be a good idea if I at least put my efforts into it. I wanted my life to change and was looking for a difference.

I figured that I had done everything possible that I guess I could at least give God a chance. It seemed as if nothing else had worked, but I have never thought of including God because I mainly blamed God, part of me thought that what happened to me was His fault. Additionally, part of me wasn’t convinced that he even existed. I wasn’t sure what I believed in, not even certain about God.

Ever since I “challenged” God, my life turned around completely and has never been the same! I “officially” accepted Jesus into my life in April, 1995 during a church meeting. What happened over the next 1 1/2 years was absolutely breathtaking!

With the love and mercy of God I learned to cope with the past and look forward to the future; there is hope and there is a better way of life. I learned that I don’t have to live my future based on my past. I am not sure why all that happened to me, but I do know that what was meant for bad is now being turned around for good.

I have forgiven all the people that have hurt and abused me. And, I have completely healed, recovered and overcome in every area! I was married to a wonderful Christian man in April, 1999. My life has taken a 360 degree turn and amazed at what God does!

It is my hopes that every person will come to the realization that they can overcome anything in their life, as nothing is hopeless!

Whatever a person has gone through or may be facing right now, they can get through it just like I did and lead a normal healthy life as God intended for them!

I know God will heal anyone, anytime of anything.

God will heal your mind and body, He will change you; He is just a prayer away.

God Can Do Anything, Absolutely Anything

Note from Eric: Liesl was hospitalized under a court order, diagnosed severely mentally ill, and told she would be institutionalized for life.  During an escape from the hospital, God stepped in…  There is hope, even for those who think they are beyond hope. 

GOD CAN DO ANYTHING, ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING
by Liesl Alexander

“I was brought up in a haunted house, cursed as a baby, handed over to Satan, my mother was an alcoholic.  In later years my world fell apart. I was hospitalised under a court order, diagnosed severely mentally ill, suicidal, cut arteries, took an overdose, violent, kept in a locked room, 36 pills a day, all treatments tried, no hope. After several years I escaped from the high security hospital, to kill myself (an atheist, a drug addict) and on the way God stepped in…”

I was an atheist, brought up in a “haunted house” filled with fear. I was reared with an alcoholic mother, a very distant angry father, and an alcoholic grandfather. This dysfunctional family was rounded out with a blind grandmother and a neurotic great aunt, a twin sister and other siblings at least 12 years our senior.

After leaving home for school, I was told my boyfriend (age 13) had committed suicide. This was when I began to dwell on death…what did it mean? what is it?

The rest of my schooling seemed to be a waste of time…because I could not think of work, only of death. Because of surgery, I had to leave school early. For one year I went home to live with a drunken mother I hated, with a fear-filled household and, in the end…decided to go into nursing to find out more about death.

I pondered death, but received no answers.

It was at this time I got into the occult.  Things went downhill from there.  Inside I wanted to die.  I was a black hole I could not get out of.

I took an overdose of drugs stolen from the hospital ward, cut arteries in my wrists and waved goodbye to the world.  I awoke in pain and with stitches.

They placed me in a room about 6×4 and I stayed there for several years.

I was taking over 36 drugs a day, strapped in a straight jacket on occasion, no windows, no visitors, no furniture.  Just a mattress on the floor.  Not even wearing any clothes.  Where was I?  I did not know then, but I was in a padded cell. After 17 months they moved me for short periods, to have treatments, but they did not work.

I hated life, feared everything, felt alone. There was no God…

I was in a high security wing of a psychiatric hospital, an asylum, but on one occasion I managed to escape.  When I was captured and returned, I was told, “Liesl, stop running away, you are here for life.  The quicker you accept this the easier for us and the easier for you. This is now your home for life.”

I wanted to die. Another time I escaped and got into the black market drug scene. I became an addict.  My plan was to die from all these drugs.

After several more escape attempts, some failed and some successful, I finally escaped to I could go and kill myself.

I went to leave because the “God” bit made me angry.  A lady at the door said “Jesus loves you! He knows what a mess you are in, he really cares.”

But when I was returned to the hospital, this man’s words went over and over in my mind.

One day some Christian visitors came to see me in hospital.

Inside me there was inexpressible turmoil, but in the room I was in there was a new feeling – a feeling of peace. I couldn’t fit it together, I could not work out what these people were saying.

They were talking very calmly about Jesus, and about Jesus having the power to heal. I could not take all the words in, they were an invasion into my isolation.

They stood around me; one had their hand on my head, another on my shoulder, and then one just spoke a simple sentence. “Lord Jesus, please heal this girl’s mind.” They were talking to God.

It was all very new and strange. I wondered what they would say next. I heard a click in my head and they heard it too. Something in me was being moved towards an encounter with light. I was face to face with light. I was being held within it. I knew it to be creative and positive, loving and so peaceful – totally the opposite of the darkness I’d just left. I was completely enveloped by it, unaware of anything else. I was aware only of the presence of Jesus.

They stopped praying. I was stunned. I saw so clearly that I’d been ill, that for years I’d existed in a hell of mental illness. Now I was

cured, suddenly, miraculously, in a space of a few moments. I couldn’t put words to what had actually taken place, but I knew, I understood, and above all, there was hope now.  I realized how far my life had been from normal.

For the next few days I moved around in a peaceful haze, stunned, trying to adjust to my new awareness of life, my freedom from mental confusion and torment.

I wasn’t particularly joyful.  I still had too many problems for that, perhaps, but I had hope. Something was still not right though.

One night at 3 a.m., I suddenly realized that even though I had met God, that He had healed me, that God was still on the outside. I asked Jesus into my life. I wanted Him on the inside. I talked simply to Jesus, telling Him that I believed in Him, and wanted to follow Him, so please would He come into my life and put right whatever was wrong.

I told Him I needed to know that He was with me and was going to guide me. Then I became aware of His presence. The knowledge that He was willing to know me and be with me – even though I was such a wreck, such a mess – overwhelmed me. I knew that I would not be in hospital for life, as the consultant has said. I knew the sick would be made whole. I knew that Jesus cared, that He was giving my life a new direction. I wasn’t alone any more. The pressure had lifted, I was now Free To Live.

God healed and delivered me, enabling me to be free to live. I was tormented, suicidal, violent, lonely. He gave me peace of mind, changed my misery to joy. He restored me to total health, and now I am married with two children. Jesus is now using me to help others with both mental and physical problems. He can help you, He wants to help you, He wants to give you assurance of eternal life, heal you, deliver you, give you a fresh start. You can trust Him.

There Was Hope

Note from Eric: Russ had lost his hope that anyone could help him with what doctors call “panic attacks.”  The sudden gripping fear that came upon him with each attack was overwhelming.  But then he heard that God had set someone free from this.  And then there was hope.

THERE WAS HOPE
by Russell Pond

It was early Saturday morning, and I had a job to finish for my company. San Antonio was only an hour’s drive from home. I had driven there many times before, but this morning was quite different. What happened that day only lasted a few minutes, but the memory of it would control my life for the next ten years.

As I entered the city, I noticed that my heart was beating quite fast, and I had difficulty breathing. What’s happening to me? My hands and legs started to go numb. This is a heart attack! I’m having a heart attack! My mind began to race. I’m going crazy. I just know I am. At that point, I just knew that I was going to die. Oh Lord, please don’t let me die!

As it turned out, I didn’t have a heart attack. I didn’t go crazy, and I’m still alive to tell you about what I went through. I was having what doctors call a panic attack.

Thoughts of dying or going crazy are common among people having a panic attack. One study shows that a third of the people who go to an emergency room for “heart problems” are there as a result of a panic attack.

Panic disorder is different from a panic attack. An attack–although it is very terrifying–only lasts a few minutes. Panic disorder results from the long term effects of the attack itself. Complications of this disorder include the fear of having another attack, agoraphobia, and drug or alcohol abuse. According to the National Mental Health Institute, between 20 and 30 million Americans suffer panic disorder.

Although panic attacks have been around for centuries, doctors are now beginning to understand what causes these terrifying experiences. The human body has a natural, biochemical reaction to fear known as the “fight or flight” system. In this system, the body prepares either to run from danger or stand up and fight.

To illustrate this, imagine walking through a thick wilderness. As you approach a small river, you notice a large black bear feeding. At this point the bear hasn’t noticed you, but your body begins to react. Your heart starts beating faster, and your blood pressure elevates. Your hands and legs begin to go numb, because your blood is being pumped to your legs for running and to your arms for fighting. Adrenaline is being released into your body. During all this, your mind is focused on that bear, and not on your body. If the bear sees you, then your body is ready to react.

Someone having a panic attack will experience the same symptoms: rapid heartbeat, numbing sensation in the hands and legs, and elevated blood pressure. Irrational fears arise because the person having the attack is “looking for the bear.” Since no external danger can be found, the panic sufferer begins to listen to what their body is telling them. My heart is racing. Maybe it’s a heart attack. My body is going numb. I must be dying. Thoughts race through the mind as the sufferer tries to “find the bear.”

Panic disorder is more common among women than men. For every eight women diagnosed with this disorder, only one man will have it. According to the NMHI, panic and anxiety disorders are the leading mental health problem in women. For men, it is second only to drug and alcohol abuse.

For years, I visited doctors in hopes of finding out what my problem was. Each doctor I saw could find nothing wrong with me. They dismissed it as either stress or “nerves”.

During my senior year at college, the panic attacks increased. I went to see a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with Chronic Panic Anxiety Disorder. It was actually a relief to know that I was not alone–that others were having the same problem I had. He treated me for about three months with an anti-anxiety drug and behavior therapy. The treatment, however, was not completely successful. A few years later, the fear returned.

In college, I discovered a temporary form of self medication known as “alcohol.” Twenty percent of those who suffer panic disorder will turn to alcohol or drugs for temporary relief. Almost every night, I would drink to avoid dealing with the fear.

Two years after graduation, the alcohol and fear continued. I felt that no one could help me. Depression eased its way into my life. Utterly hopeless, I prayed a simple prayer, “God, if You are real, then You can help me. You can take away this fear.”

After visiting various churches, I found one that I really enjoyed. It was quite different than what I was used to. Worship was the focus of this non-denominational church. I knew that this was the place for me.

On my third visit, the pastor began speaking about this fear he had experienced. I’ve heard many people talk about fear, but this time it was different. I knew the kind of fear he was describing. Afterwards, he agreed to see me for counseling.

On our first meeting together, he asked me to explain what I was going through. As I stumbled for words, he stopped me and said, “Better yet. Let me explain it to you.” As he began to describe the fear, I was shocked–someone could actually describe to me my fears.

The layers of hopelessness slowly began to peel away. Not only did I find someone who experienced what I had, but he was completely free from it. There was hope. For the first time in my life, I could see light at the end of the tunnel.

From that day on, I began a quest. I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could about panic attacks and panic disorder. I started collecting every article I could find on the subject. I searched the Bible for all references to fear. I read books by doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists who understand this anxiety disease.

In all of the researched information, I never found that overnight cure I so desperately sought. I was hoping for that “magic pill,” but there was none. I soon learned that healing is a process.

After meeting with other panic sufferers, I learned that the healing process is related to the length of the disorder. For those who had been experiencing panic attacks for only a few years, healing often came in a few months. For others who had experienced this fear their entire life, as my pastor and I, healing was a longer process.

Overcoming panic disorder starts with knowledge of the disorder. Knowing how the body reacts during a “fight or flight” situation can help tremendously when the next panic attack strikes. When the mind begins to “search for the bear,” the sufferer can now understand why these thoughts arise.

Doctors today have become quite knowledgeable about anxiety. Panic disorder is one of the most curable mental health problems in today’s society. The sad news is that only one in four people seek treatment. Over ninety percent of those who do seek treatment can notice significant relief within a few weeks. If you feel you are victim of this fear, talk to your doctor. There is hope. Healing will come in its time.

For me, the Key to opening that door to healing was Jesus Christ. The Bible says that there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear, because fear involves torment (1 John 4:18, NKJV). That perfect love can come only through Jesus.

You may ask, “I suffer panic attacks and fear. Where do I begin?” You can start where I did–with prayer. Pray the simple prayer that I prayed when I was in that tunnel of darkness. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. Commit your life to Christ. Then, through Him, God will cast out that imperfect fear with His perfect Love. This is where healing begins.

Dear Heavenly Father, I come to You defeated by this fear. The Bible says that Your perfect Love casts out all fear, and I want to know Your Love. I know that I have not lived a perfect life before You, but there is One Who has, Jesus Christ. I commit my life to developing a love relationship with Him. I can now come to You through Your Son and receive the peace You have for me. I ask all of these things in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

I hope this testimony has blessed you. If you would like to ask me some questions about panic attacks or if you want some prayer, then send me some email. I would love to hear from you. Blessings!

Russell ministers on the Internet to many people who have panic attacks through his web site, www.seasonofpeace.com.

There’s More!

Note from Eric: My friend watched helplessly as his once-booming business began to crumble, and with it, several other things in his life.   He came to a point where he put his faith in Christ, only to find out this was just the beginning.  Read his story to find out why his godly uncle told him, “There’s more!” 

THERE’S MORE
by L. Carter

I was the oldest of 3 children and my Father owned and operated one of the largest and most successful frozen food companies in Canada.

I was raised in a business environment and by the time I had turned 21 years of age I was the acting office manager, overseeing a staff of 25 people at our head office in Toronto, Canada. In 1980 my Father transferred me to our branch operation in Montreal. However, by mid 1981 a severe economic recession began to ravage and destroy thousands of businesses across Canada and our company was no exception. My dad struggled hard to hold things together, but everything was falling apart at the seams and our family’s long successful business was quickly sinking into a sea of red ink.

Feeling utterly helpless I began to embark on a nightly odyssey of going to night-clubs and getting stoned. One evening while at a friend’s house, I noticed he had a Bible in his living room. I picked it up, flipped through a couple of pages; and though I cannot remember what I may have read, I soon afterwards purchased my own Bible at a local bookstore.

As I began reading the Bible I started to discover who Jesus really was. I soon became totally captivated and would read the scriptures for hours at a time, usually amazed at what I was learning. Often I would sit there wondering why nobody had ever told me any of these things before. But to my greatest surprise, I was becoming increasingly convicted of my sins; and the more I read, the more convicted I became.

By late fall of 1983 I had reached the end of my rope. I was now completely broken, empty, miserable, and desperate as I struggled with the growing hopelessness of trying to change my sinful condition. I was trapped in the despairing cycle of Romans 7:14-19. I now had many questions, so I decided to visit an Uncle who was considered by all family members as a “religious nut.” As it turned out, my Uncle Ken was the Pastor of a small Bible believing church located in upstate New York.

uring my weekend visit with my Uncle, I shared what had happened to me only a few months previous, of how in a time of brokenness and despair I had choked out the words – “O’ Jesus please help me;” and of how that heart cry was followed by a clear mental vision of Jesus Christ hanging on the cross. As I looked into the beaten face of Christ, peering down at me from on that cross, I was cut to the heart and broke down sobbing. After telling my Uncle of this wonderful revelation, he responded with only this: “There’s more!”

He referred to this “more” as being an enduement of power from on high; an empowerment from God to live a Holy and Godly life. A burning desire now began to grow in my heart to receive this Holy Ghost baptism.

During my entire four-and-one-half hour drive back to Montreal, I found myself unable to do anything except cry out to God with all my heart and soul. When I finally arrived at my home I immediately rushed from my car into my house, I dropped down onto my knees, and choked with tears, I continued petitioning God to fill me with His promised Holy Spirit. What happened next took me completely by surprise and forever changed my life!

As I was on my knees praying the entire room suddenly exploded with a loud noise which sounded like a gale-force wind blowing through a pipeline. The sound was so loud that it drowned out my own voice; and then all of a sudden, BOOM! It was as though the very floodgates of heaven burst open and I became totally engulfed in what I can only describe as a mighty rushing downpour of God’s power and love.

As this invisible shower poured down upon me I began to feel something forcefully surging upwards from deep within me, as if some great cleansing wellspring was washing me on the inside. I could actually feel it washing away every stain of guilt and sin from within me. It was at this very instant that Jesus Christ momentarily appeared to me. He was standing directly behind me with his arms crossed over his chest, He was looking straight at me and joyously laughing. Months earlier I had seen the face of a broken and crucified Jesus, but now I was gazing upon a radiant and resurrected Christ.

It was precisely at this moment that something akin to a large stone collar began lifting from off of my shoulders. Although I cannot remember having ever been conscious of bearing this great load, I was now acutely aware of it being removed. As this large heavy weight was being taken away, my soul suddenly filled with a profound sense of love, peace and joy. So overpowering was this sense of love and joy that was flowing in and out of my heart, that I burst out into a great childlike belly laugh. The joy was overwhelming in it’s purity and simplicity; and it seemed to me impossible that I could ever contain it all.

I cannot tell you for how long this entire experience lasted, but when it had all subsided, I knew I had been cleansed and forever changed by the power of Jesus Christ. I had been truly born again and endued with power from on high.

The days that followed were wonderful, I was like a small child filled with an inexhaustible source of innocence, peace, joy and love. The sky looked bluer and the grass looked greener and it now seemed as if all creation were singing praises to the Lord.

But most remarkable of all, was the tremendous measure of love that God had deposited into my heart. It was like no other love I had ever known or experienced before. It was as if I were now completely possessed by the fullness of God’s unfathomable love. Romans 5:5 was now to me, an experiential truth: “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Immediately after that day, the Holy Spirit began to open up the scriptures like I never dreamed possible. I couldn’t put the Bible down! I voraciously consumed the Word night and day. The Scriptures were now alive, bursting with fullness, meaning and light. Every word was as a drop of cool water to my parched and hungry soul.

In 1993 I felt called to preach the Gospel while running a successful computer training business, and by 1997 I closed down my company and entered into full-time ministry as an itinerant Evangelist. Since this time God has greatly confirmed His calling by opening hundreds of doors to preach and by supplying the every need of my family with a provision so abundant that I can only marvel at His faithfulness and love. To God be all the Glory, forever and ever, Amen.

I Felt Him All Over My Body

Note from Eric: Sometimes God gets so close you can feel Him.  Even though Russ didn’t believe in God, he began calling out in prayer to Him when things got bad.  And God answered his prayers – in a way he’ll never forget.

I FELT HIM ALL OVER MY BODY
by Russell Pond

Today is September 4, 1991. The most incredible thing happened to me last night. My prayers were answered. Not only my prayers, but the prayers of my friends who I asked to pray for me were answered.

Over the past week, everything in my life slowly began drifting away. My problems were intensifying. My emotions were on a roller coaster. My finances, or lack there of, began catching up with me. I started dreading the meetings at work. My life was crumbling. I spent Labor Day weekend alone. I wouldn’t even let Jesus into my lonely life. Oh, He was asking, but I wasn’t responding. I started asking all of my friends to pray for me as I struggled through these times.

Monday night, I was watching Benny Hinn’s Sunday service that TBN broadcasts every week. He was teaching on prayerlessness. It was a great service, but the one thing that caught my eye was the little brief memo that flashed across the screen to let people know that Benny was going to be in the Dallas area. TBN’s Praise the Lord show was going to host Benny for an interview and prayer service.

After work Tuesday, the day of the show, I went straight over to my hairdresser to get a quick haircut. The show was at 9:00pm, but the doors opened at 8:00pm, which meant we had to get there about 6:30pm.

Darlenne was a close friend, as well as my hairdresser. Over the past month, she had been going through some tough problems with her life. Trying to comfort her, I bought Benny Hinn’s book Good Morning Holy Spirit, and loaned it to her to read. She loved it and was really moved by the Spirit when she read it. I told her I needed a quick haircut, because I wanted to go and see Benny Hinn. She wanted to hurry so that she could join me. After a quick haircut, we arrived at the TBN studio at about 7:30.

There was already a long line when we arrived. Earlier, I had called the studio to find out how many seats were available. After hearing there were only a hundred, I figured we would never make it inside. An hour passed, and the line was getting shorter. At about 9:00, we were standing at the front door, ready to go in. I was getting excited. Then my heart dropped.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the show is full. We will have to shut the doors.” He went on to say that if anyone were to leave during the show, they would let the next few people in. Okay, so there was a little hope left.

At about 10:00, the people in line began leaving. The ones that did stay, however, were some fun people. We were singing praise music and praying outside of the studio. It was wonderful! I saw people falling under the power of God. People were praying for each other, and many were filled with tears of joy.

There was one young lady, Debbie, who was so gifted. The Spirit was with her as she would walk up to people and ask them if she could pray for them. She was an anointed woman. People would fall under the power of God when she would pray for them. She could see things in the Spirit that were as clear as day to her. I wish I could be in touch with the Spirit like she was.

At about 10:30, I started getting pretty tired. I hadn’t eaten dinner, and I was standing up all evening, not even knowing if I was going to make it inside. As I was relaxing, I remember thinking, “Maybe I should ask her to pray for me, because at this point, I had asked all of my friends to pray for me.” But, I didn’t feel very comfortable because of all of the people standing around.

Seconds after thinking that, she flagged me from across the foyer, and said, “You want to be blessed, don’t you brother?”

I agreed with no hesitation.

She walked over and said, “The Spirit is going to bless you.”

I lifted my hands and began surrendering to Him. She started praying, and immediately, I felt Him all over my body. She knew it, and she was surprised at how easily I was filled.

As she was praying, she mentioned something that made me feel so good. She told me that the Lord is very pleased with me. When she said that, it released an incredible amount of burden. One of my worst downfalls is that I try so hard to please the Lord, but when I fail, it destroys my confidence, and I feel the Lord is displeased. When she said that, an inner peace engulfed my body, and the reality of grace filled me.

As she prayed, she told me some things that were astonishing. She told me that I have been given a gift. I don’t know what that gift is yet, but I knew that I was given one, even before she told me. In fact, I feel that I’ve been given more than just one. She continued praying for me, and I became drunk in the Spirit. Here I am standing outside a Christian broadcast studio, hoping to get in so that I get blessed, but I was getting blessed outside with these ordinary, everyday people.

As the time passed, I realized that it was about 11:30pm, and it didn’t look like we were going to get in. My legs were killing me, and I was tired and hungry. I kept asking Darlenne if she was ready to go, because if she said yes, I was gone. But she insisted we stay.

Two or three times, I asked her, but she held her ground. I never said, “Hey, let’s go.” It was always, “Are you getting tired?” or “Feel like going yet?” But she never gave in, and I thank her for it, because at 11:40pm, they opened the front doors, and we were right there, first in line.

As we entered the studio, Benny was already praying for people. He was off the main stage, walking among the people, praying for them. I remember my first thoughts, “This area is small, I’ll be able to see him up close.” But, I noticed that I didn’t feel anything. No anointing, no Spirit, nothing. I was just excited to see Benny Hinn up close.

As we moved closer to the stage, people began falling under the power of the Spirit, but I felt nothing. Then as he walked right passed us, I realized that I was standing there focusing on Benny, the man, when I should have been focusing on Jesus, our Lord. Instantly, when I came to this realization, I began to feel the Spirit. He slowly started to work His way into my body. I had total control, but the feeling was wonderful, I didn’t want it to stop.

Benny went back up to the stage and called out for all of the people who were standing outside to come up to the front. With my hands lifted and eyes closed, I began picturing Jesus. As Benny blew into the microphone, the Spirit filled me. Everyone around me, about twenty in all, fell under the power of the Spirit. My body was like Jell-O. My hands were shaking and tingling, and I felt this powerful feeling of glory all over my body. At this point, everyone began standing back up, but I couldn’t stand up. My body was so relaxed, like an incredible burden had been lifted.

As I tried to stand up, Benny pointed at me and said, “It’s all over you brother. Get up here on the stage.”

With the help of a few people, I made it up on the stage with Darlenne.

Benny asked us, “Do you two want the anointing? Do you?”

With hands lifted and hearts opened, we said, “Yes!”

“Well then take it!”

As he waved his hand, we were both slain in the Spirit. I laid there in total freedom. My body was numb, and I felt this powerful feeling of peace that just filled my entire spirit. But the most powerful feeling was my hands. This incredible sensation covered them completely, inside and out. It was a different feeling that what my body was feeling. It was as if the Holy Spirit was holding my hands. I felt as if they weren’t even mine. It was a numbing sensation, tingling and electrifying. It felt like my hands had fallen asleep, but without that painful tingling. It was more of an intense tingling. It was nothing I had ever felt before.

As we laid there on the stage, Benny kept talking about us to the people watching. He was telling everybody that we were never going to be the same again. He pointed at me and said, “God is going to use that man. I can see a calling all on his life.”

As they stood me back up, he asked me what I was feeling. Before I could answer, he knew that my hands were covered with the anointing.

“You feel it all over your hands, don’t you?”

Since I couldn’t speak, I just nodded yes.

Then he asked me, “You’ve had people praying for you, haven’t you?”

Stumbling on my words, I replied, “Yes. I’ve been asking my friends to pray for me.”

And he said, “Well, they’re being answered right now.”

He waved his hand again, and I fell.

At this point, my hands were completely numb. I could feel them, but the sensation had increased immensely. As I lay there, my mind was racing a hundred miles an hour, but nothing was entering my mind. No problems, no burdens, no worries, no pain. Everything was going through my mind, but I wasn’t thinking about anything. It wasn’t confusing, because I had total control. This powerful feeling of ecstasy kept making me laugh. I have never felt such freedom and pleasure filled with total joy and happiness. If this is just a sliver of heaven, I can’t wait to die.

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).

It Brought Me To My Knees

Note from Eric: God spoke to Randal in 1953 while he was doing the dishes:  I want you to preach.  Three times God spoke, and three times Randal was brought to his knees, weeping.  And over 45 years later he’s still preaching.  

IT BROUGHT ME TO MY KNEES
by Randal Wallen

Many people do not believe that God speaks to our inner spirit.  I would like to share my testimony of how God dealt with me.

In the year 1953 God dealt with me in a special way.  I had given my life to Jesus and promised that I would do and go wherever he wanted me to.

My wife was gone to her mother’s and I was finishing up some of the dirty dishes from our evening meal.  While doing this I heard the Holy Ghost speak to my heart.  It brought me to my knees.  The spirit was saying to me, “I want you to preach.”  I went to another room and fell on my knees.  I heard the same message, then I moved to the bathroom and fell on my knees.  The same message spoke to me.  Then I went into a closet, closed the door, and in the darkness I wrestled with God about what he wanted me to do, to preach.  I would argue with the Spirit, saying, I was not educated enough, I had a good job, I had a family, I was not capable, and many more excuses.

God kept bearing down, I WANT YOU TO PREACH.  Finally, I told God if he would make the way I would preach.

My wife came in and I was crying.  I told her to come with me down to my mother’s house.  She didn’t know what was going on and I didn’t either.

At my mother’s house I told her what had happened to me, and like most of us, I thought that Mother could solve all things.  She didn’t help me at all and told me that this was between me and God.  My step father walked in the room.

He said that he had a dream that Raeburn, (my brother) was not going to be the preacher of the family (he was preaching at the time) but he is going to be a teacher.  Randal is going to be the preacher.  We all stood in amazement as we listened.

His dream became a reality; Raeburn became a professor of Religion at Findlay College, Ohio, and I started preaching.

I for one can testify that experiences still happen and that God can turn our lives around to fulfill his plan for us.

What A Mess

Note from Eric: Eighty percent of Peter’s body was burned in a fire at age 1.  The scars on his heart from that accident caused even more pain throughout his life.  At the end of his rope, while talking to his sister on the phone, he finally heard Jesus say “Come to me, Peter, and I will give you rest.”

WHAT A MESS
by Peter Gladwin

I teetered on the brink – physically, mentally and literally. As I stared into the murky depths flowing below, the memories flooded back. Tears fell onto the parapet. My life was wasted – I’d blown it. “Damn!” I didn’t even have the guts to jump.

I couldn’t face going home. I was so desperate, so alone. I shuffled through the grey streets of Siddal, Halifax, my hands pushed deep into my empty pockets. The jibes from the past echoed in my ears, “Penniless Pete is out on the street.” I didn’t know where to go, I didn’t care were I went.

A man I recognised walked towards me. He raised his hand in greeting. I knew his face but couldn’t place him. “Hi Peter, you all right?”

I couldn’t look him in the face and for once I didn’t have a smart answer, “Yeah, OK,” was all I could manage. I was oblivious to everything except my own confusion. Surely I could fall no lower; how I wished this misery would end.

Last night was a blur, I’d tried to wash away my past with a cocktail of drink and drugs, but this morning, the chill of the cold, grey December day brought it all back. I staggered through the house, the pains of withdrawal pushed my spirit to a new low. Everything I had worked for and loved was gone. The TV, the hi-fi, the furniture all sold to finance my addictions. But worse still, Anne-Marie had gone. My erratic behaviour had driven her away. She could neither afford to subsidise my addictive life style, nor did she have the desire to try.

Gone, too, was my son, Peter Edward. The icy rain on my face could not wash the tears from my heart.

I found myself at mother’s, I don’t know why. She was always yelling at me when I was a kid, to tell the truth, I was terrified of her. I knocked on the door of the small first floor flat. The dirty grey stone walls, blackened by a century of coal fired industry, seemed even gloomier as the drizzle drenched everything it touched. She pulled the door open an inch or two to check out the unexpected caller.

I sat in the kitchen and tried to tell her everything at once. She dried her hands on her pinafore, filled the water stained kettle and clanked it on top of the white enameled gas stove. The gas hissed, and as the match got close it ignited with a flash and a roar. She used the same match to light her cigarette. I gasped for breath as I cried and talked. The words didn’t seem to make sense. Mum was horrified. She’d never seen me like this. I’d always been happy, no cares, no worries – not that anybody knew. It was only a mask, especially for the last couple of years anyway. After some time there were no more tears and my sobbing subsided. “I’m going to ring Annette,” she spoke lighting another cigarette, “she’ll know what to do.” Annette, my eldest sister, lived in Bradford. She was the sensible one in the family.

Mum dialed the number and waited. She adjusted her glasses and pushed her greying hair behind her ear. “Hello, Annette, it’s about our Peter.” She spoke in a whisper, and told my sister what had happened and the shocking state I was in. Mum handed me the phone. “She wants to speak to you, son.”

“Peter,” said Annette, her voice was quiet, yet strong; “Mum’s told me what’s happened. And the truth is? Your life is a mess because your heart is not right before God.”

God, God was the least of my worries; I worshipped only drink, drugs and a good time. God couldn’t give me a buzz, not like a win on the horses, He couldn’t give me a laugh, not like sharing a joint and having a few pints with my mates. No, not part of my scene! But today was different. Where were my mates, my possessions? Where was my money, my girl, my son? Where were the good times? Today was different. Was it the end – or a new beginning?

Annette continued, “Put your trust in His Son, Jesus Christ, and repent your sins, then God will give you a new start.”. (Romans 6:23,) “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. Memories of the past ran before my sore eyes, like a flickery old movie. I watched the scenes unfold, replaying all the events of my miserable life; the drunken nights when I staggered home and slept alone on the bathroom floor, betting on the dead certs that never won, the suffering, the pain, the fear, the anger, the humiliation, the despair.

My head was spinning. Everything was a blur. Annette was still on the phone. Then through my tears I saw Jesus. He was standing there before me. He wore a white robe and said, “Come to me, Peter, and I will give you rest.”

“Am I cracking up?” I cried, the grief seemed to crawl out from the bottom of my soul. “Am I losing my mind?” The hallucinations were all too much for my addled brain – but this was no hallucination, this was a true vision. Minutes later I was crying down the telephone, calling for God to come into my life, desperate for the help that only He could give. (Psalm 86:5) “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.”

I don’t remember much more until later, when Annette arrived. It is about twenty minutes from Bradford and she soon took charge of the situation. That day, I enjoyed the company of my family, something I hadn’t done for some years. Annette lived quietly with her family and her life had been uneventful. Life in Bradford among the dirty, grey stone houses didn’t have much variety, you were just grateful to have enough money to feed the family. If there was anything left over at the end of the week, it was a miracle. She said that finding God was a miracle, too. She told me of the joy and happiness that had entered her life since the day she turned to God, and how I, too, could find peace and freedom from my destructive lifestyle – if only I would let Him into my heart.

(Rev. 3:20) “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” The thought of my earlier vision had brought me comfort. Just how much of what I’d seen could I cope with? Peace and comfort, I was not used to these feelings.

That evening she took us to church. It wasn’t far. We walked together through the dark streets on the council estate; the bitter December wind had driven even the most hardened thugs indoors. The lights shone out from the houses. Most of the curtains were drawn tight against the early winter chill, yet each window seemed to glow that warm, orangey glow that draws you in. We should be indoors, in the warm, not out here going to church. “It’ll be as cold as Charity.” I thought, as I drew my neck into my upturned collar. We walked on, the night was like a long dark tunnel, I wanted so much to see some light at the far end.

Buttershaw Congregational Church was on a busy main road that leads into the centre of Bradford. It was a modern, brick building and the sodium streetlights made it glow with energy. The small front garden was so neat and tidy, it had to be a good place. We went in through the double doors, through the tiny porch and into its warm interior. It was so long since I had been to church that I’d forgotten what it was like. I had expected grey walls, grey ceiling and grey people. I was so wrong. The interior was filled with light that bounced back from the cream coloured walls and gave such a warm, friendly feel to the place. And the people’s faces – their smiles seemed to make their cheeks even rosier. Their fire and passion for God was plain to see. When they sang, they sang from their hearts and love flowed with the hymns. They sang ‘Amazing Grace’, I hadn’t heard it for years but the line about ‘saving a wretch like me’ really struck home. It was if they had sung it especially for me. The happiness in that small building was so strong that I forgot the sequence of events that took me there in the first place. I remembered some of the words in the hymns from my childhood and caught myself singing along. I felt good. A tide of emotion hit me and I put my arms round Mum and Annette, and cried some more.

After the service we spoke to some of the people Annette knew. They were so kind, so understanding. They didn’t ask questions, they accepted me as I was. When they placed a hand on my arm, it wasn’t pushing me; not, “Come on, Pete, get some dope and we’ll have a smoke.” Or, “Hey, Pete, it’s your round!” It was, “It’s OK, we’re here if you need us.” And, “Don’t worry, it’ll be alright.” How could such nice people even want such a wreck of humanity in their building?

Two men from the congregation took me to the front, near the lectern, and led me in a prayer. This was something I just didn’t do; me, Peter, the cool guy who’s always up for laugh – on my knees, praying! But this time it felt right. With their support I managed it. It was a real prayer, they said it was the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’. As a child I didn’t know there was a God, which made my suffering worse. For years the truth had been denied me. Little did I know that He was there, watching, waiting, knowing one day I would need Him, and when I called – He answered. I knew then, I wanted to live – really live and that I received the truth I’d longed for all my life. I prayed some more – and it was good.

We walked back to mother’s house in silence. Our breath condensed on the frosty air as we strode purposefully along the tarmac footpaths. It was one of those nights when the air is as crisp and clear as crystal. The stars flickered through the colours of the spectrum and the space between was so deep, so black, and so empty; yet the wisdom of the universe flowed from it. That wisdom was from God, I was sure of it. I saw clearly the road ahead, as clear as that night sky – I could see into a new dimension.

I stayed at Mum’s that night, Annette had to return to her family. I broke the silence. “Mum, everything they said at church was right.” I was stronger, now, even though I knew there was still a long way to go. “I was saved for a reason, I don’t know what it is yet, but you can be sure I’m going to find out.” (Isaiah 61:1) “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;” She put me up some supper and got me a blanket so I could sleep on the sofa. For the first time in weeks I went to sleep without being drunk or high. I slept soundly and woke to the smell of toast and the sound of the kettle boiling in the kitchen. The sun shone through the gap in the curtains, it was the start of a bright new day. And, best of all, I had been given a second chance to start a bright new life, this time not in my own strength but in God’s.

His Timing Is Perfect

Note from Eric: Here’s a great story about God’s timing, and how His timing produces much more fruit in the end than our timing ever could. If you’re waiting for some of the things that God has put on your heart to come to pass, I hope this story will encourage you to keep trusting Him and keep praying for His timing.

HIS TIMING IS PERFECT
by Rebecca Livermore

As the German pastor shared his vision for a time of reconciliation between Germans and Jews in the Olympic Stadium in West Berlin, I could barely contain myself. What he planned to do was unprecedented, and my sense was that God was clearly in it. When he gave the Macedonian call to “Come over and help us,” it was all I could do to keep from being catapulted from my seat! I wanted to say, “Yes! I’ll come!” After the service I made a beeline toward this pastor.

When I got home from church, I read and reread information he gave me; the more I read, the more excited I became. I could just picture myself in the Olympic Stadium, worshipping and proclaiming Jesus together with people from every nation.

An incredible thing began to take place in my life, something I had never experienced before; I began to truly intercede for this pastor, for his family, and for the planned event. I prayed like I had never prayed before, often waking up in the middle of the night, with an overwhelming compulsion to pray. God impressed Scriptures on my heart to pray for the pastor, the church, and the people in Berlin. I just knew that God had something special for me in Berlin!

Unfortunately, I was a single, 19-year-old girl, without the resources (namely money) to make a trip to Berlin. But that didn’t worry me. God was so clearly in me going, that surely He was going to make a way. After all, with God all things are possible, right? But when it came close to the time of the rally, and I still didn’t have anything more than a dream, I had to accept the reality that it wasn’t going to happen. My dream had died.

I took this to the Lord in prayer. I didn’t question His goodness or love for me, but I couldn’t understand why He gave me such a passion to go to Berlin and then slammed the door in my face.

I found the answer in the pages of Scripture. Romans 1:8- 13 was God’s specific, clear, unmistakable answer to the question of my heart. It reads, “First, I think my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, who I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established – that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.”

Those words were written by Paul, but they could have been written by me! How I prayed for these people! How I wanted to find a way in the will of God to come to them! How I longed to see them! And just like Paul, I had been hindered from going.

When I read the words, “That I may impart to you some spiritual gift” I sensed the Lord speaking to me, “Rebecca, there will come a time when you will go to Berlin, but if you go now, you will be going with nothing to impart to the people there. You will go in the future, and when you do, you will be going with something to impart.” That was my answer, and I gladly embraced it.

I kept praying for the people of Berlin and for this local church pastor. God regularly impressed Scriptures on my heart for him, and I began writing them down and mailing them to him. In my letters, I didn’t tell him anything about my passion for the people of Germany, or of my unfulfilled desire to go to Berlin. My letters were totally focused on his ministry, and what I felt God was prompting me to pray for him.

Rather than dissipating, my passion and burden for Germany increased, so much so that I decided to take some German language courses. In passing, I mentioned this in one of my letters to the pastor. He wrote back, “If you want to learn German, the best way is for you to come here. If you’d like to do that, I can arrange for you to stay with a woman in my congregation.”

Wow! This time the money was in the bank, and I’d have a free place to stay. How exciting! So, about a year after my initial desire to go to Berlin, I found myself on a plane, headed to Europe. Amazingly enough, I had forgotten all about the passage of Scripture in Romans and God’s promise to me, but God had not forgotten. He was faithful to do what He had promised.

Shortly after I buckled my safety belt on the plane, the passage in Romans came back to me. I prayed, “Oh Lord, you said I would go with something to impart, but what do I have to impart to the people of Berlin? I have nothing! I know nothing! I have no speaking engagements, and no one even knows of my desire to minister. The pastor just thinks I want to learn German. God, is this a mistake?” Mistake or no, there was nothing I could do about it; the plane had taken off and I was on my way to Berlin.

A few days after my arrival, Sunday rolled around, so of course we went to church. By German standards, the church was huge, with approximately 1000 people. From across the sanctuary, I noticed a woman staring at me. This continued off and on throughout the service. I had no idea who she was, but I was determined to talk to her after the service. But when the service ended, the woman I was staying with introduced me to people around us, and by the time that finished, the “mystery woman” had disappeared.

Later that week, I was invited to go to the church to help with mailing out a magazine the church produced. Shortly after arrival at the church, I ran into the mystery woman who had been staring at me during church. Come to find out, she was the children’s education director at the church – which was exactly what I did in my church in California. After chatting for awhile, she asked me if I would like to go to a teachers’ training meeting that night. I agreed to go. After the meeting, she asked me if I would be willing to speak at another training meeting two weeks later.

The next week, the pastor came to have coffee with me and the woman I was staying with. I told him about my plans to speak, and he asked, “Who will interpret for you?” When I replied, “Gertraud will interpret for me,” he said, “Oh, let me interpret for you.” I agreed, even though I was a bit intimidated by him; he was known internationally, and I was just a 20-year old girl who until then had never even been away from home, much less out of the country.

This was my first time working with an interpreter, but he had done it many times and was very good at it. It was as if he knew what I was going to say before I even opened my mouth. More significant, was an incredible awareness that God was with me as I spoke, and that He was truly using me as a vessel to impart His truth to the people there. It went very well, to the point that afterwards the pastor said,“Would you be willing to share this same thing with the entire congregation?”

Things took off from there, and I spent the rest of the summer involved in various aspects of ministry in the church in Berlin. After I returned to the States, I continued to stay in touch with the church, and the next summer God brought expansion to my ministry by opening the doors for me to speak in churches in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and France.

My plan was to go to a huge rally, and sit in a crowd, with thousands of other people, as a spectator, more than a participant. That would have no doubt been exciting, but God’s plan was better. My desire was to sit in a stadium, but His desire was for me to minister everywhere from a huge cathedral in a big city, to a quiet retreat center in the Swiss Alps. His vision was much bigger than mine ever could have been. Doors of opportunity opened for me as I waited on the Lord for His timing and direction.

You Can’t Do It, But Jesus Can!

Note from Eric:  Dave was a fast starter in the computer industry, eventually presiding over several computer companies. Disaster hit and he lost his business, his house, his wife, and his hope.  There was nothing more he could do.  But Jesus could.

 

YOU CAN’T DO IT, BUT JESUS CAN!
By David Daniel Wertman

I was a fast starter in the computer industry. And having begun in 1965, I can now honestly say I have been in it, or at least at it, for 30 years.

In that time, I achieved a lot. In fact, I have done just about everything you can do in computers. Starting in the 60s, I was an operator, then programmer, then analyst, then customer support, then sales, then marketing, then Vice President, and President of several Computer companies. I have wired boards, programmed in numerous different languages, designed circuitry, even etched my own boards.

I sold computer services, computer hardware, and software. And I managed at all levels. As VP of Sales and Marketing for Tecmar (the first company with add-on peripherals for the IBM PC) I took the company from less than $1MM in sales to a tracking rate of over $20 MM in less than 3 years. In 1981, Bill Gates (of then tiny little Microsoft) took me to lunch (he even bought) to talk about industry directions. What a rush! I was on top of it all! But somehow, it just didn’t seem like enough.

I left Tecmar, founded my own Peripherals company, was soon acquired by a publicly held company, and it still just didn’t seem like enough.

I reached out for more in selfish greed. I worshiped at the altar of conspicuous consumption, deviant pleasures, and the false god of “self.”  And sin was the offering to these false gods. But they were never satisfied, their cry was for – more – more – more – and I just couldn’t keep up.

Although I didn’t know what I was seeking, I became increasing aware that the World could not provide it. Then after yet another company, and another success, I began to ask the question again; Is this all there is?

But this time, it really was different. Before I even could begin to answer that question, it all began to fall apart. First the business went, then the marriage, and quickly thereafter, the house, and the cars, everything. Then, after 2 years of being unemployed, I still couldn’t even get a job because, no one wanted to hire an ex-Company President. “Too Qualified” was always the explanation. I was evicted from a trailer where I had been temporarily living.

So suddenly I had nothing. I had even lost hope. I did not know where I would move, I had no friends (amazing how often friends and money and position, all leave together) and I was truly lost. I was a 46 year old, one time “whiz kid”, with all the answers, who now didn’t know what to do, or even where to turn.

Then God stretched out His hand of loving mercy to me through a radio message (the station I was listening to, faded out and another message came in) from Dr. David Jeremiah (Turning Point Ministries). The message was “handling adversity”, and all I really heard was that “you can’t do it”.. I knew that was true, because I had tried for years and failed. But Dr. Jeremiah said “But Jesus can do it. With Him in your life, It Can Be Done!”

I sat down on the steps of the trailer I was being evicted from, and asked Jesus Christ to come into my life. And as I prayed, and cried, for the first time I remembered my baptism at age 8. And through the tears in my eyes and in my heart, I saw myself sitting there as that 8 year old boy. And Jesus stood by me with His hand on my shoulder. He said “My son, I never left you. It was you who turned away from me.”

He was right, and I knew it. I had chosen the World before, but not now! I will never turn from him again!

I started out by saying to God, OK God, Let’s Go! I am ready, Use Me! And then I just sat there and waited for God to use me. It never occurred to me that as a friend later advised, “No one, Not even GOD”, needs to steer a parked car. And besides, why would He use me. A man whose pride still kept him accepting work that was below him.

Why would anyone who looked at what I was doing (nothing), see anything in my life that honored God? So, finally convicted, I began to stand up. I stood, not in pride, but in faith and in character. I figured that if I got moving, God would direct my path.

I signed up with a temporary agency and amused myself by comparing my day’s wages earned by the sweat of my brow, with an hour’s wages from a previous time. So I worked as a third shift laborer for minimum wage, and since I came to Christ, I also have been without work. But through It all God has continued to sustain me. He has shown me the difference between my desires for things and real “need.”

I once had it all. But still I had nothing – without Him! Now I have nothing. Yet now I have it all – In Him! My favorite verses say what God has done for me. He has saved me! And He has shown me that my only real need is for Him!

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

But my joy and understanding begins in Philippians 4:11, and goes through to 4:13. So I have made these verses my Life Verses, because I don’t ever want to forget about what is really important; my relationship with God.

Not even the material things that He gives are to be coveted. Nor are they to be held too tightly. But it is His gift of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ which is of lasting importance.

And so, it is written and I have learned:

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Brothers and sisters, I have had it both ways. I took the fullness of what the world offered and found it hollow; I gorged myself on it’s rich, sweet promises, and tasted the bitterness of its’ shallow and unfulfilled lies.

But now I have the riches of fellowship with God the Father, through Jesus Christ, God the Son, and in the Power of God the Holy Spirit. He supplies all my “needs.”

I Praise God for His Love, His Grace, and His Mercy on a poor sinner like me.

Once I was sure that I would never get any of it back; the money, the power, and such. And that concerned me, because I still wanted it. But then I began to wonder what I would do if I did have it back. And that thought scared me. So for a while, I actually feared getting it back. I reasoned that since I am weak (and that is not just a statement of false humility, this is true. I really am exceedingly weak!), I would just use it badly anyway. Then as God continued to show His Faithfulness and His sufficiency, I lost my desire to even have it back.

But guess what? As I truly gave it over to Him, and loosened the grip of my desire, He slowly began to give it back again. Not all of it, and not all at once. But He started out by getting me a job in computers again. (I won’t go into the details here, but how it came about was amazing.) The money isn’t much, but I don’t really need much. And I enjoy the work. And I actually work for a good man who is a Christian!

I am now working on a complete chronicle of God’s Mercy and His Faithfulness in my life. What you have read here, is only a tiny, tiny part of it. I continue to be surprised and truly amazed, as I think back on my life and see God’s hand. It begins before I was born, and then certainly before I came to Him, through Jesus Christ, and I know it will go on, throughout eternity.

Thanks for reading this, and for caring about Him, too!

Just One Prayer Away

Note from Eric:  After a restless night, an 18 year hiatus from attending church, and knowing that one of his friends was dying, Al woke up one Sunday morning and told his wife they should go to church. They got in the car and started driving, spotting a sign for a brand new church called “Saddleback.” In this story, Al shares how God revealed Himself to him, not just once, but many years later when he needed that revelation again.

JUST ONE PRAYER AWAY
by Al Lowry

Many have marveled at Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion,” about Jesus Christ’s last hours here on earth.

About 20 years ago another film hit the theaters with a very different impact on the Christian Community. As a matter of fact, this depiction of Christ was so over the top for many churches that leaders requested a boycott of this Martin Scorcese production, “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

At the time, I had just begun attending a little start up church in Orange County, California. The congregation of about 250 people was led by a young pastor named Rick Warren, and was held in the Laguna Hills High School auditorium. Glen Kruen, an associate pastor of this church, implored us not to view the movie, which depicted Jesus’ humanness in ways that contradicted Jesus’ own teachings about Himself.

As someone who had not attended church in about 18 years, I was stunned to hear a pastor requesting his congregation to make a moral determination based on a work we had not even viewed. Stranger still, I decided to forgo seeing the movie myself. This was the first time I had ever taken a stand based on some one else’s moral view.

The next day was very cloudy in Southern California, reminiscent of my boyhood days growing up in Michigan. The front page of The Orange County Register showed an article of a Christian movement to boycott, “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

I felt a bit peculiar to be a part of this “movement”, and it was very much on my mind as I drove along Golden Lantern Parkway in the City of Dana Point. Along the way I spotted a street named, Jeremiah. Wasn’t that in the Bible? Then Josiah, Leah, David… The whole subdivision had biblical names. I parked my car by a grassy area called Dana Crest Park. Then I looked up at the clouds and prayed for the first time. A little awkwardly I asked, “Lord, if you’re real, please make yourself known to me.”

I wasn’t sure why I made this bold request, but felt compelled to do so. I think part of it was due to the pastor’s own bold challenge to test the Bible which will prove to be the inspired word of God. As I prayed, I was staring above the trees on a hillside where dark clouds still loomed. It was then that something remarkable happened. The sky cleared and the sun came through in the very spot where my eyes rested. This startled me to realize the God of the universe would answer my request on the spot. I’d heard that He answers all prayers but this blatant manipulation of nature was overwhelming to me.

It was just as overwhelming as what prompted me to go back to church in the first place after an 18 year hiatus.

One Sunday morning in the early 1980’s, I had woken up from a very restless night. My wife and I were living at our first house in Laguna Hills, and my friend, David, was dying of cancer. He was very young, as were we, and death was not an area I had any experience with. For no apparent reason, I woke up and told Suzanne we should go to church. Without a word, we got on the road and began looking for one. We spotted a banner, which directed us to the service that was just starting at Saddleback Church.

The topic Rick spoke about on this particular Sunday morning was entitled, “On Handling Grief.” I remember being spellbound at the words spoken. The message was so relevant that I believed God was speaking to me directly through Rick’s words. That night David died. His passing was very hard on those of us who loved him, but we received much relief from God’s words through Rick.

Shortly after my epiphany in the park, I once again attended church and was challenged again. This time, with our eyes closed in prayer, the pastor challenged us with an unusual question. “ If you can think of no reason not to, why don’t you acknowledge to God that you’re a sinner and that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for those sins, and then raised Him from the dead, and will raise you, too, along with all who know Him and accept Him as their personal Savior?” Put like this, I could see no logical reason to resist this offer of a free gift.

I took the challenge, accepted Christ, and was baptized in a Jacuzzi, Southern California style. It was the first baptism done by our newly appointed music pastor, Rick Muchow. My life was forever changed.

Around this time, I began playing guitar in the church band, while maintaining a personal relationship with Christ. In good times and bad, I learned to rely on God for decisions in my life. I started a ministry for guitarists in the church who shared a love for Christ, and we began to offer our services of leading worship to other ministries, study groups and outreaches of all sorts.

But just recently I was very troubled. Much had been happening in my life; not all bad by any means, but enough to cause anxiety and concerns. Many years had passed since I first made a decision to follow Christ, and I was feeling overwhelmed. Over time, we’d experienced the anguish of bankruptcy and foreclosure of our home. We’d had three kids, and my contracting business was always on a roller coaster of highs and lows. Our pastor had written a best selling book, and our small church had grown to international acclaim. Our guitar ministry was about to produce it’s a second CD.

It had been over 18 years since that first day in the park where I said my first prayer. I sometimes still stopped there for a time of contemplation if I happened to be passing by. I knew it was time to return again to Dana Crest Park, my sanctuary, for a little life contemplation session.

I recalled to my mind the first time I sat in this same spot, wondering about Jesus Christ and asking for a sign that He was real. Now, this March day exhibited the cloudiness I had come to expect in recent days. 2005 had measured a record rainfall in Southern California. I could remember so vividly watching the clouds open up that first day I had prayed. Perhaps, I wondered, if I asked again, God would repeat a similar miracle to show He still was there for me.

I prayed, but the sky remained unchanged. I pushed a little harder, embellishing with some scripture and Christian clichés that came to mind. After all, I was now familiar with the Bible, and had learned faith as small as a mustard seed had the potential to obtain at least a meager harvest. Still, the sky remained dark along with my spirits. I began to have doubts as to whether God was still close to me or not. I’d become so busy, not with all bad things, and with some that the world might look at as healthy church involvement. But the real problem was that I just wasn’t spending time in personal communion with God. Busyness had become my God, and I didn’t have time to wait for answers from Him.

Then I heard a voice; not a roaring lion, no audible sound at all, but very clearly these words came into my mind, and I began to weep.

“Why do you require a visual sign today? Hasn’t your life in me been a miracle and isn’t your salvation enough? Don’t miss my blessing! Don’t take it for granted!”

I began driving through these streets of biblical names, listening to the music that would be going on to our new CD, and praising God. New life flowed through me as the songs written by my friends ministered to me and soothed my dying heart. God was pleased at the effort we had shown, but even more so that I was spending time with Him. I became overwhelmed reading the street signs depicting heroes from the Old and New Testaments.

When we seek God, He always comes through; often answering prayer in ways we would never imagine, but always answering. It’s easy to get discouraged and impatient when our perspective is lost in today and not in eternity. Aren’t we all doubters at times, with hints of Thomas circulating in our lives? Even though he had traveled personally with Jesus and had witnessed the wondrous miracles He performed, Thomas still wanted to see for himself that Jesus was alive. Jesus answered Thomas’ request, showed him the scars in His hands and feet and side, and proved without a doubt that He had indeed risen from the dead that first Easter morning.

Then He added: “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

I’ve learned a lesson from my trips to the park over the years: Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. I don’t need to see the clouds part to know that God is still here, that He still cares, and that He is still answering my prayers. He has proved Himself to me over and over again. I know that I can call on Him at any time, in any place, and know that He will hear me.

Whether you’re a “seasoned Christian” or just thinking about taking a first step towards God, if you’re feeling distant from God, know that You can come to Him again today. Don’t let pride, hesitancy, doubt or discouragement keep you from coming to Him. Call on Him. Let Him show you, in His way and His time, how very much He loves and cares for you. And always remember: He’s just one prayer away.

Jesus, Get Me Out Of Here

Note from Eric: I must have cried three or four times while reading this story. Linda rejected God at an early age and then lived through many years of what she describes as “hell on earth.” The faithful prayers of a man at work led her to know there was a way out. One day, she found the Way. 

JESUS, GET ME OUT OF HERE
by Linda Laine

I grew up in a Buddhist religion.

When I was 15 I gave my life to Satan. I practiced black magic and later white magic (I thought it was good). I would like to add, for the benefit of those who just dabble, that when you open the door to the occult you open the door to an evil that only Jesus can shut.

When I became an adult I received my own Buddhist altar and became heavily involved with the new age movement. I was even teaching my daughter about these things. During this whole time no one ever shared the message of Christ with me until my 30’s.

I know this may seem hard to believe but I bare witness to this fact and I hope that anyone that reads this will become a little more aware of how their witnessing does make a difference. Just because you are born in America does not mean you have heard the message. I remember one thing, when I was living in Hollywood I was walking down the street and a young man, carrying a bag, walked down the street passing out miniature bibles and saying, “Jesus loves you.” I don’t know what happened to that bible and it was about 15 years later that I was saved, but I NEVER forgot that young man. I was never witnessed to again until 12 years later.

My life was in such a depressed state. I was suicidal and was hospitalized twice for severe depression. The group of people I called friends were users and being around them would suck the life out of you. My life had become so dark and depressed. It was like being sucked in to a black cloud and you don’t have the energy or will to even care if you get out or get help. I reached a point where I refused any more counseling or medication because I didn’t care if I got better. I finally reached a point becoming fully convinced that I had already lived my life, died and was in hell. Suicide attempts failed and reinforced my beliefs. I could not die because I was already dead.

One Monday morning, at work, an Army Colonel, [Colonel Murph,] approached me and said that he had thought about me and my daughter Sara over the weekend.

I said, “Oh?”

He replied, “Yes, I was in church and the two of you came to my mind and I just want you to know that the Lord has put a burden in my heart for both of you and I want you to know that I am praying for both of you.”

I was rather stunned and didn’t know how to respond. I kind of just let it go because it really didn’t mean anything to me.

At this time, having been battered and thrown out of my home, I was just beginning divorce proceedings from my brief but second marriage. I spent the next three years going back and forth to this man, dragging my daughter along with me.

Finally, on another rebound, he came to me saying his mother was dying and we ended up together again. She died and then his father’s cancer came back. He asked to move in to my house and asked if I would help take care of his father.

I said yes, so he moved to my house with his two teenage kids and his dying father. This was such a stressful time as I was taking care of all of them and working full time as well. This also turned out to be a rewarding time because it was the first time I ever talked to the real God, not my god.

Chuck (my husband’s father) had become so special to me and I shared a tenderness with him that I never had with my own father. One night I was talking to him about dying and he said he wasn’t afraid. He said he was going to be with Doris in heaven and then he dozed off to sleep. I cried as we held hands and I prayed. I said, “God, I don’t know if you can hear me from hell, but if you can please answer my prayer. I know I deserve to be here but Chuck doesn’t belong here. Please heal him or bring him home to You. I know I don’t deserve your ear but I hope you hear me and answer my prayer. No one should ever suffer like this.”

Two days later Chuck died there in my home. Two hours later my husband said he was ready to finalize our divorce and that he and his children were moving out and getting on with their life. He expressed his gratitude and walked out the door.

I was beyond devastated. That black hole just got blacker. I would sit in the corner in the dark holding my head, rocking back and forth and cry out in such agony. The torment I began experiencing was more horrible than anything imaginable. I would walk through the house screaming at God, “God, get me out of here! I don’t want to be here anymore! You took Chuck when I asked so I know you hear me! Now, get me out of here!”

My daughter was very much in the middle of all of this took care of me much as anyone would take care of any crazy person. I used to shake her and yell, “Don’t you understand, I just don’t care!!! I don’t care about you, I don’t care about work, I don’t care about this house, I just don’t care!!!” She got to the point of becoming stone faced when I spoke to her. Her emotions were gone.

One day at work, Colonel Murph called me into his office. I thought I was in trouble. It had been three years since he talked to me about Jesus. I walked into his office and he got up and shut the door. He walked back to his desk, sat down and began sobbing.

All I remember him telling me is this, “Linda, Jesus loves you so much. I have not stopped praying for you and Sara. I have prayed for both of you every day since the time I told you that the Lord had placed a burden in my heart for you two. The Lord loves you so much and I wish you could know just how much he loves you. He has such a good life planned for you and wants so much for you to believe in Him. Please, please trust Him.”

No one ever told me anything like this before. Frankly, at the time, I think I was more moved by his tears and sincerity. No one ever cried for me before.

I just want to add here, if the Lord has put it in your heart to pray for someone, please don’t stop. Their very life and eternal life may depend on it.

It was during this time, just a week or so before, I was flipping through the channels on TV. I stumbled upon TBN and I could not change the channel. As a matter of fact Murph mentioned TBN and specifically the Praise the Lord show. I very haughtily replied, I’ve heard of it and as a matter of fact I just started watching it. Very soon after this Murph moved to Alabama.

I continued to watch TBN and all I really remember is they kept talking about Jesus and the wonderful things He has done and continues to do. I left this station on all the time, even while I slept. At first I kept it on in the background in my room while I listened from my bathroom floor in the dark. Eventually, I started to sit in front of the TV.

I had no idea what they were talking about having never been around Christianity but I began to want to know this Jesus. I mostly remember Benny Hinn, with such a gentle spirit, holding his hands up to the camera and saying, Come on. It’s by faith…

I wanted so much to have faith that Jesus could heal my mind. Every time anyone said the sinner’s prayer I would cry and pray. I just wanted to know Jesus. I did this every day for about three months. Finally, one night I stood in front of my TV and saw a joy and peace I thought I would never have. Satan said to me, “That’s not real. I put that on to taunt you, to show you what you could of had but instead you gave your life to me. You’re in hell and you’re mine forever.”

My whole body froze and tears just ran down my face. Finally, I walked dazed to my living room and I remember thinking, “I can’t get out of here. I have no where to go. I can’t die, I can’t live, I’m stuck.” I told Satan, “I know I’m yours, I know I’m in hell, but I am not a willing participant anymore. I know this is your territory but I will defy you all the way. And if you want to cast me out of hell and into an eternal nothingness I will gladly go.”

Then I stood up in the middle of my living room, looked up crying and lifted my hands to heaven and screamed as loud as I could,

“JESUS, GET ME OUT OF HERE. I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE ANYMORE. I’M SORRY FOR WHATEVER IT IS THAT I HAVE DONE TO MAKE YOU SEND ME TO HELL. I AM SO SORRY, PLEASE FORGIVE ME. JESUS, THEY SAID THAT IF I CALL ON YOU, YOU WOULD SAVE ME. THEY SAID THAT IF I CONFESS YOU AS LORD AND SAVIOR THAT YOU WOULD COME INTO MY LIFE. JESUS, GET ME OUT OF HERE, I BELIEVE YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN SAVE ME. I BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD. I BELIEVE YOU DIED FOR ME AND WAS RAISED UP. I CONFESS WITH MY MOUTH THAT YOU ARE THE LORD AND I BELIEVE WITH MY WHOLE HEART. PLEASE, FORGIVE ME. PLEASE SAVE ME.”

Needless to say, by this time I was on the floor. I stopped crying, got up and sat down in the chair. I noticed something was different. I wasn’t laughing or filled with joy at that moment but what I noticed was that for the first time in my life the noise in my head stopped. All of the confusion was gone. It was just quiet. I don’t know how else to explain it.

Suddenly I heard a different voice than the one I had been listening to. He said, “He’s a liar.” I sat up and said, “What?” and He said again, “He’s a liar, everything he has told you is a lie.” I thought about it for a moment and said, “Wait a minute, if he’s a lie, then I’m not in hell. If he’s a lie, then I’m not already dead. If he’s a lie, then my life isn’t over, it’s just beginning.”

I stood up, angrier than I’ve ever been, I yelled, “Satan!!! You are a liar, everything you have taught me is a lie. I gave you my life as a child and it wasn’t my life to give you. I’m taking it back and it belongs to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You get out of my house, get out of my life, get out of my daughter’s life, get out of my job, my friends, my finances. You get out now, in the name of Jesus, you are no longer honored here or welcomed. OUT!!!

I sat back down dazed, or totally amazed is more like it. I have never experienced anything like this in my life. I immediately took vacation because I really needed time off. I had no idea what had happened to me. It wasn’t until about a month later that I realized I was saved.

I heard people talking about it but experiencing it was a whole other ball game. All I knew was I was not the same. I spent the whole morning standing in the kitchen, looking out the window to the sky and I kept singing the “Alleluia” song. It was all I knew. I just keep singing and crying. Finally my daughter came home. She asked if I needed anything and I called her to me. I just looked at her, started crying again, and said, “He’s alive!!! He’s alive!!!”

She asked, “Who’s alive?”

I said, “Jesus. Jesus is alive — He’s not dead, He’s not just a story or someone in history. He is really alive!!!”

She looked at me with a very puzzled look and said, “Sure mom, whatever!!!”

I told her, “Listen to me. If you never listen to anything else I say, listen and believe this, EVERYTHING I have taught you is a lie, EVERYTHING. I was so wrong and have lied to you all your life. What I said about Christians was wrong. What I taught you about crystals, psychics, spirits, ghosts, and master-teacher guides was a lie. The only truth is Jesus.”

She thought I really went over the deep end and asked to go back to her friend’s house. I spent every moment I could reading the bible. It was so exciting and every word seemed to come to life. The Lord ministered to me in such a marvelous way.

Shortly there after my daughter gave her life to Jesus and is such a blessing to me. She examined me carefully at first and saw that it wasn’t just a temporary thing or a fad. She saw a new mom.

Within a couple of months after being saved I had the chance to talk to Murph. I told him what happened and he truly rejoiced with his whole heart. He just kept saying, Praise the Lord, thank you Jesus. A few months later he went home to the Lord.

One more thing, about my Buddhist altar…

One day I was cleaning out all my “junk” which included digging up the crystals I had buried around my house. We went through and threw out everything, crystals, tarot cards, wands, books, stones, chimes, bells, candles, and everything else. I got to my altar in the closet and the Lord told me to leave it there. I questioned Him, thinking it wasn’t Him, but there was no doubt… it was Him. So I left it alone.

About three months later for days I kept hearing, “Not by power, not by might, but by My spirit.” I didn’t understand what He meant.

Then one day I was in my kitchen and the Lord said to me, “Recall the altar.”

I said, somewhat startled, “What?”

He said, “Recall the altar. Give it back.”

I told Him I would throw it away but He said to give it back. I told Him I would send it to my mom’s and again He said give it back. I told Him I didn’t know where to take it. He just said, “Take it back to where you received it!”

To make a long story short, I found the church in Dallas where it had come from. I called to find out when I could come and entered into a conversation with a man. After much debate I told him to tell me where to bring it or I’ll just throw it in the dumpster. He asked my name, I told him, and he told me his name. He just happened to be the man that was the head of the church in San Francisco, where I grew up, that taught me there was no Jesus Christ. He had been transferred to the Dallas headquarters. Well, bless God, I about fell out my chair. I knew it was the Lord.

I took the altar to him. As I started to park next to the only car in the parking lot, the Lord said, “No, not here.”

So I went all the way around and ended up parking nose to nose with this car. I got out of the car and as I approached the building I recognized the man immediately. He was talking to three other people who were evidently going to lunch. As they walked off, I introduced myself to him and he then tried to stop the other three people. I headed to my car and was at my trunk while the three people were getting in to their car in front of me.

He yelled to them, “Wait, don’t go. This is the lady I told you about.” They smiled and waved at me and proceeded to get in their car.

He yelled, “No. Wait. She is the one that wants to return her gohonzon. This is the lady I wanted you to see.”

They stood at their doors smiling, waving and congratulating me. They said they are so happy for me and hoped to get a chance to talk to me sometime.

He stomped his feet, waved his arms and said, “Don’t you hear me? Don’t you understand me? She’s bringing it BACK.”

They smiled, waved again, got in their car and drove away. We both just stood there. He as completely baffled and I was awe struck.

We went inside and asked many questions. He asked me if people came to my house and left literature.

I said no.

He asked if I had friends that were talking to me about Christianity.

I said, “You don’t understand, when I became a Christian, I lost every single one of my friends.”

He asked if I had a husband or boyfriend that converted me. I said no.

I finally told him, “You don’t understand, Jesus Christ Himself came into my living room in Grand Prairie, Texas and touched me.”

I was right, he didn’t understand. Then he asked me what religion I was. I told him I didn’t understand the question because I didn’t know what the religions were or what they meant. He asked if I was Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, etc. I kept answering no to all my choices.

He asked, “OK, then tell me what kind of church you attend.”

I said, “The kind that loves Jesus.”

I apologized for being so difficult but explained that I just didn’t understand. He said I must belong to something. I said, “Well, all I know is He’s alive and He came in to my living room and saved my life. I have read my bible and the only religion I found was the body of Christ and if I must belong to something I guess you could say I am a member of the body of Christ.”

Right at that moment the Lord said to me, “Not by power, not by might, but by My Spirit you were saved. Let this be your testimony.”

My life has never been the same!!! Praise the Lord!!! I thank the Lord Jesus for never forgetting me. I really was a horrible sinner yet He didn’t forget me or leave me behind. In spite of everything I have done, He has forgiven me. I’m still amazed and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t give thanks that He remembered me and saved me.

There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t share my testimony with someone. Jesus truly is the most precious thing I have. Without him I know that I am dead. It’s only because of Him that I have life and truly do have it more abundantly.

Do You Believe That I Am Able To Do This?

Note from Eric: This is the story that changed my life.  I had always heard about Jesus, but could never quite believe in him.  But one day I faced a problem I could not change no matter what.  That’s when Jesus asked me, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT I AM ABLE TO DO THIS?
By Eric Elder

I met Jesus on February 9th, 1987. I had heard about Jesus all of my life, but on that day I met him. Here’s what happened:

At a church retreat, a group of us were talking about Jesus. I felt the need to be honest with the group and told them I wasn’t sure if I believed in Jesus. For 24 years I was raised in a Christian home, attended church weekly, and went to Christian conferences. But that weekend, when talking about Jesus, I had to say that I didn’t know if I really believed in Him.

I took the plunge to find out more when a man invited me to study the Bible with him and some friends. After six months of meeting with them each week, the question arose about whether or not we knew for sure we had eternal life – that when we died God would take us into heaven.

I thought about my life and answered with a hesitant, “Yes,” and added, “about 90% sure.” The man next to me then answered and said, “Yes, 100% sure.”

My immediate thought was, How arrogant! How does he know what God is going to do with him? But as we went around the circle, man after man said, “Yes, 100% sure.” “100%.” “100%,” “100%,” “100%.” Back to me: “90%.”

They said to me, “Eric, the difference between 90% and 100% will change your life.” Making a mental note of that, I went on with the study.

Six months later, we were studying the book of Romans. A phrase in Chapter 1 caught my eye. At the end of a long list of sins was a statement that “… those who do such things deserve death….”

Wow! I thought. Death? Death is a pretty strong sentence for some of those things.

I told the group, “I’m not sure how to say this, but I don’t think I’ve done that much wrong in my life. I’ve hardly done anything that I would even get put in jail for in America, let alone get the death penalty. Yet, the Bible says that everyone has done such things, and for that, they deserve death.”

A man in the group made a suggestion. “Why don’t you ask God and see what He says?”

I felt that was fair enough.  But as I went to ask God, I realized this would be the hardest prayer I’d ever prayed.  What if God was right and I really did deserve death?

But I wanted to know, so I said, “God, show me if I’ve done anything for which I deserve death.”  Either I was right, and the Bible was wrong, or the Bible said was right and I was wrong.  They couldn’t both be right.

Within two weeks, God answered my prayer.

He drew my attention to one of the sins listed in Chapter 1 of Romans.  The sin was homosexuality.

Like many men who enter into homosexuality, I had felt a void in my life in my relationships with other men. I didn’t excel at the typical male activities in our small town, such as football, basketball, or wrestling. I instead liked things like music, gymnastics, and dancing, all of which were done mostly by “girls.”

So I found that most of my close relationships were with women.  And like many homosexuals, the problem is not in relationships with women, but in relationships with men.

In college, I met men who cared about me and spent time with me. As we got closer as friends, our intimacy eventually turned sexual. 

It made me feel good to finally be accepted by men.  None of us go into sin because it’s bad.  We go into it because we think it will fill a void in our lives.

But when I prayed to God to show me if there was anything I’d done wrong in my life, He pointed to this.

I was overwhelmed. All of a sudden, God opened my eyes to see it for what it was.  It was a path that would lead me to destruction.  A path that would lead me to death.  God was right, and I was wrong.

I began to think about Adam and Eve, and the incredible way God had created men and women to be different, so that when they came together they would produce life!  I thought about my homosexual encounters, and no matter how you arrange the body parts, they never produce life.  In fact, it could easily lead to just the opposite.

God wanted me to have an abundant life, but I was heading down the path towards death.  

I realized that I really had turned my back on God and his ways, just like everyone else.  And I realized that I really might die from some of the things I had done.  If so, it wasn’t because God didn’t love me, but because I would simply be reaping the consequences of what I had sown.

I felt terrible before God. I was truly sorry, but I had no way to make up for what I had done. I couldn’t take back my actions. I couldn’t undo the past.

I knew, however, that I did not want to be this way anymore.  But how could I get rid of it?  I had read that you were born that way.  Who could change me?  My parents?  My friends?  A counselor?  I knew it wasn’t me.

Then I happened to read in my Bible about two blind men who wanted to be healed (Matthew 9:27-30).

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”  

When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” 

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”; and their sight was restored. 

The words jumped off the page at me.  I felt as if Jesus were asking me the same question.  I was wanting to find someone who could change me, and Jesus was asking me, “Do you believe that I can do this?”

I thought about everything I’d ever read about Jesus, how he healed the sick, raised the dead, and walked on water.  If anyone could do it, He could.  In fact, I couldn’t think of anyone else who could even come close to doing it.

I raised my head to the sky, closed my eyes, and said, “Yes, Lord.”

And just like he did with the blind men, he touched me, healed me, and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you.”

That very next day I happened to be at a church where a man was talking about why Jesus came to earth.  Not just to tell us to love each other, which we already knew before, but to die for our sins, so we wouldn’t have to.

If we would put our faith in him, we would escape the ultimate penalty for our sins, eternal death, and he would give us eternal life.  I don’t remember ever feeling so much love as that night as I went home.  I never would have thought there was a man who would love me so much that he would give his life for me.

I didn’t know what to do with the incredible love I felt. The closest thing I knew to this strong of a love was with a girl I had dated in college.  I decided to call her. But as I reached for the phone, I heard the words, “Talk to Me.” 

I paused, then went for the phone again. But again I heard, “Talk to Me.”

The third time I reached for the phone, I heard the words a third time.  “Talk to Me.”

I left the phone and knelt on top of my bed and talked to God.

Through heavy weeping I told Him I was sorry for what I had done. I told Him I had indeed sinned and rightly deserved death; that I had followed my own way for 24 years, and now I saw where I was headed.

I told Him that I believed in Jesus, and thanked him for healing me and dying for me so I could live.  I told him that I would do whatever He wanted me to do.  For I finally found someone I would gladly follow anywhere.  I asked him to be be my Lord.

The next day I woke up with new eyes, and a new life.  It was as different as night and day.  I believed every word in the Bible was true.

I eventually married that girl from college and we have six children.

God picked me up from the path of death, and put me on the path of life.  God was true to his word Jesus said:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

If you’ve never put your faith in Christ, you can do it right now.  He can change you, heal you, restore you, and set you free.  He can give you a new life, both here on earth and in heaven with him forever.

The Bible says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Ask him to be your Lord.  It will make all the difference in the world.

Stories of Changed Lives

Welcome to the library at The Ranch, a quiet, warm place where you can be still before God.

You’ll find stories here of people in our generation who have caught a glimpse of the Living God.  Like a Dad who delights his children with a game of hide-and-go-seek, God takes great delight when His children seek Him out.

And the search is not in vain.  He promises that those who seek Him will find Him.*  Considering how big God is, it’s pretty hard for Him to hide too long.  In fact, the closer you look, the more of Him you’ll see.

Whenever I read stories like these, I’m encouraged that God is real, that He’s alive and that He’ll be there for me, too.

So sit back, get comfortable and choose a story.  You’re about to read about a very faithful God.

*You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

CHOOSE A STORY

Do You Believe That I Am Able To Do This?

This is the story that changed my life. I had always heard about Jesus, but could never quite believe in him. But one day I faced a problem I could not change no matter what. That’s when Jesus asked me, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (By Eric Elder)

Jesus, Get Me Out Of Here

I must have cried three or four times while reading this story. Linda rejected God at an early age and then lived through many years of what she describes as “hell on earth.” The faithful prayers of a man at work led her to know there was a way out. One day, she found the Way. (By Linda Laine)

Just One Prayer Away

After a restless night, an 18 year hiatus from attending church, and knowing that one of his friends was dying, Al woke up one Sunday morning and told his wife they should go to church. They got in the car and started driving, spotting a sign for a brand new church called “Saddleback.” In this story, Al shares how God revealed Himself to him, not just once, but many years later when he needed that revelation again. (By Al Lowry)

You Can’t Do It, But Jesus Can!

Dave was a fast starter in the computer industry, eventually presiding over several computer companies. Disaster hit and he lost his business, his house, his wife, and his hope. There was nothing more he could do. But Jesus could. (By David Daniel Wertman)

His Timing Is Perfect

Here’s a great story about God’s timing, and how His timing produces much more fruit in the end than our timing ever could. If you’re waiting for some of the things that God has put on your heart to come to pass, I hope this story will encourage you to keep trusting Him and keep praying for His timing. (By Rebecca Livermore)

What A Mess

Eighty percent of Peter’s body was burned in a fire at age 1. The scars on his heart from that accident caused even more pain throughout his life. At the end of his rope, while talking to his sister on the phone, he finally heard Jesus say “Come to me, Peter, and I will give you rest.” (By Peter Gladwin)

We Considered Suicide

After the death of his father and mother, Paul discussed with his brothers and sisters what they were going to do without their parents. As they considered suicide, a stranger came into their home and changed their lives forever. Hear the story yourself as Paul tells it in both English and Tamil. (By Paul from India)

It’s Never Too Late

After divorcing his wife of 24 years and watching his successful business plummet to a million dollars in debt, he called out to God saying, “I want to get to know You.”  Join me as I interview Stan about how God answered that prayer, helping him to remarry his wife, calling him to a new purpose in life, and giving him the Ultimate Dream, eternal life with God Himself. (By Stan Pouw)

World Champion Cyclist Finds Christ

I met Sue Novara-Reber on a missions trip to Swaziland. She shared with me her story about how she had been a world champion cyclist, winning medals for the U.S. at the World Championships and the Olympics. But at the height of her cycling career, she wondered if this was all there was to life. She was about to find out there was so much more–and it’s available to every one of us. (By Sue Novara-Reber)

It Brought Me To My Knees

God spoke to Randal in 1953 while he was doing the dishes: I want you to preach. Three times God spoke, and three times Randal was brought to his knees, weeping. And over 45 years later he’s still preaching. (By Randal Wallen)

I Felt Him All Over My Body

Sometimes God gets so close you can feel Him. Even though Russ didn’t believe in God, he began calling out in prayer to Him when things got bad. And God answered his prayers – in a way he’ll never forget. (By Russell Pond)

There’s More!

My friend, watched helplessly as his once-booming business began to crumble, and with it, several other things in his life. He came to a point where he put his faith in Christ, only to find out this was just the beginning. Read his story to find out why his godly uncle told him, “There’s more!” (By L. Carter)

There Was Hope

Russ had lost his hope that anyone could help him with what doctors call “panic attacks.” The sudden gripping fear that came upon him with each attack was overwhelming. But then he heard that God had set someone free from this. And then there was hope. (By Russell Pond)

Mitch & Dan

When Mitch realized his anger at others was really displaced anger towards his Dad, he decided to do something about it. He found that the best way to renew his relationship was to try to express his own love to his Dad first. It wasn’t easy, but over time, love won out. A great story about renewing any relationships in our lives, told by Mitch and his Uncle Dan.

God Can Do Anything, Absolutely Anything

Liesl was hospitalized under a court order, diagnosed severely mentally ill, and told she would be institutionalized for life. During an escape from the hospital, God stepped in… There is hope, even for those who think they are beyond hope. (By Liesl Alexander)

God’s Healing Touch

Does God still heal today?  Join me for this message for living proof that He does.  Chuck and Sharon Giacinto share their own life-changing story.  Take heart that the God of the Bible who “forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:3) is still alive and active today. (by Chuck and Sharon Giacinto)

Ever Since I Challenged God

Vicki tried everything she could think of to escape from the abuse others had inflicted on her and that she had inflicted on herself. But when she was invited to church for the first time in 15 years, she heard about something she’d never tried before. After “challenging” God to prove himself she now says, “My life turned around completely and has never been the same!” (By Vicki)

I Felt The Most Amazing Peace

Lisa was a teenager who had been sexually abused, consumed with rage and very depressed. On the night she planned to take her life, she got hope from a Christian radio program. One month later, she said a prayer and felt “the most amazing peace.” She concludes, “And it has never left.” (By Lisa Sutter)

Tomorrow May Not Be Mine

As a wife and mother of two children, the unthinkable happened when Joy was in a car accident that broke her neck. As she lay in the hospital, she had to face whether or not she was ready for what’s to come beyond this life. (By Joy Schroeder)

The Bridge Went Down

Shannon was a teenager with little church background when she heard a story about a man who worked at a railway bridge. When she realized the story was about what God did for her through Jesus, and she put her faith in him that night. (By Shannon Blacklock)

My Son, There Is A Jesus

Paul could literally feel the forces of good and evil pulling him as he battled to stay alive. But God answered his prayers when the Spirit of God zapped him with what felt like an electric shock that saved both him and his mother on the same night, causing his mom to declare, “My Son, there is a Jesus.” (By Paul Albrecht)

You Mean…I Can Still Be Happy?

Dara has been a Christian for some time, but she couldn’t believe it when one day she felt God was saying that she could still be happy even after all she had been through. She was soon flooded with a joy she had never felt before. (By Dara)

More Short Stories

Short excerpts from more stories of people whose lives have been changed by the power of Christ.

The Walk Of Faith

And last but not least, here are several stories from the days when Jesus walked the earth about the power of faith to change their lives.  Be encouraged that Jesus is still alive and doing miracles.  These are just a few of those recorded in the Bible, as the Apostle John said, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25).

It’s Never Too Late

After divorcing his wife of 24 years and watching his successful business plummet to a million dollars in debt, he called out to God saying, “I want to get to know You.”  Join me as I interview Stan about how God answered that prayer, helping him to remarry his wife, calling him to a new purpose in life, and giving him the Ultimate Dream, eternal life with God Himself. (Recorded June 1, 2002)

Watch The Video (in English or Indonesian)

Read The Transcript

Hi this is Eric Elder and welcome to The Ranch.

Tonight’s message is called “It’s Never Too Late.”  I have a special guest with me tonight named Stan Pouw.  He’s come to visit us from Denver, Colorado.  He has a very special story to share with you tonight.

I just want to ask him a few questions and let you hear how God has worked in Stan’s life and just the amazing miracle of a new birth that any one of us can have when we trust in God and we answer the call of God on our life.

Stan has been through a divorce and God has brought him back together with his wife.  He has also brought Stan into full-time ministry.  I don’t mean to give away the end of the story, but I want to let you know that your in for a special testimony tonight.

We’re focusing in a verse from 1 John 1:9 that says this:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

So tonight you will hear how God can forgive us of anything and it’s never too late.

ERIC:  Stan, I guess I just really want to hear a little bit, if you just want to let people know what your life was like before God called you.

STAN:  Well, I didn’t grow up here.  I grew up in Indonesia and I came here to the United States when I was 21 years old.  I studied here and got my masters from the University of Michigan in architecture.

Coming to the United States was for me sort of a dream come true.  I was focusing on getting a large architectural firm, getting married, having a family.  I think one of my goals was to have a big house and live a life that was part of the American Dream.  So I was pursuing all those things that I thought would bring me happiness.

I started a firm in architecture after I had apprenticed seven years in Denver, Colorado and the firm quickly grew and grew until I had about 55 people.  I was involved in the Denver International Airport, did a lot of work on a lot of big projects, built a big house for myself.

Becky and I had three kids and I was pursuing all those things that I thought would bring me happiness.  I thought, “If I could just get this large house in Genesee, if I could just get a better car, if I could just get more people and more jobs, I would be happy.”

But I found out that I was very unhappy.  Becky and I were continually having fights, I was lured in a trap of focusing on myself.  I thought that being the president of my own firm with a lot of important other things that I was doing, I thought that I had it made, that I could do whatever I wanted.  And I was seeking happiness.

So, I had to find happiness.  In fact, after I had a large house and a big business, I went even as far as looking for other women.  And Becky knew that and our relationship got worse and worse.  And after 24 years of marriage in 1992, our marriage fell apart and I got a divorce.

ERIC:  And that’s about when I met you.  I had heard that Stan had gotten a divorce.  We had met each other casually over the years, but I didn’t really know you well, but I just sensed that was not God’s plan for you.

It turned out that, as we prayed about this, a business trip opened up to Denver.  And then the business trip fell through and I said, “No, God, I think I’m supposed to go.”  I called the people back and said, “Well, I know you don’t need this for me out there, but I’d like to offer a different project to talk about.”  They said that would be great and to go to Denver.

And we got to spend a little time talking.  I guess I’d like to have you share a little bit about that and how God made that call on your life.

STAN:  Well, when Eric came into my life, it was in fact after the divorce.  When I divorced Becky, I gave her everything I owned, I gave the houses, and I figured that with my company, I would make whatever I gave to her, I would make it back again.

But I think God had something totally different in mind.  It was as if God said, “Enough Stan, you did enough damage by yourself.”  And after the divorce, everything I did, Eric, everything, that before was the right decision, this time was the wrong decision.

In a very short amount of time, God took away the profitable business I had, people were leaving right and left.  There was a lot of competition to get good people in Denver at the time and some people wanted to start there own business.  And when you have a large company, when things are not managed correctly, when there are a lot of things happening that you don’t know, suddenly a profitable business becomes a very unprofitable business.

Within six months from being a profitable business, I was in debt by a million dollars.  My son had been kicked out of high school, he was doing drugs.  He came to live with me and everything I had worked for was gone.  My marriage was gone, my firm was gone, my family life was gone, and when Eric called, I was really at the bottom of everything.  People were telling me, “Stan, you better declare bankruptcy.”

And so, when you came, it was something that I had not expected.  And when you told me your life story, and told me how you were called to God, and asked me what I wanted, I said, “God, if there is anything, I want to get to know You.  If you are a God, and you are the God of this universe, I just want to get to know you.”

I remember after you left, I sat in the car for a long, long time.  It was nine o’clock at night, it was dark already.  And I gave my life to Christ that night.

The next morning, I decided, well, I’ve got to start learning how to find out who is this God.  And so I went to a bookstore.  I tried to find the books, I tried to find a book to find out what I needed to know and I just picked a book at random that happened to be Billy Graham’s Holy Spirit,” a red book.  And that point changed my life.  I started reading the Bible, for the very first time, I started reading the Bible.

When I was divorced I didn’t have a Bible.  You gave me your Bible.  I started reading that Bible and I started discovering who God was.  I started learning.  I started reading the whole front to back, Old Testament to New Testament in a matter of three months.  I was just going over it very quickly.

Later on I was going back slower and slower and everything changed.  My life changed, my attitude changed, and deep down, although I had never changed my mind before, although I had never gone back on something I had decided, I knew I had to go back to my wife, the wife of my youth.  It took a lot of time, because it took a lot of time for me to get the courage to come back to her and to ask Becky for forgiveness.  And to say, “Becky, you know, I’ve sinned, I’ve done wrong.”

Well, it took about a year and a half before I was able to go back to Becky.  When Becky and I talked again, she did what any woman would have done.  She said, “I don’t believe you.”  And so I understood that I had to prove to her – trust is something that can go away, very quickly – but you have to prove that it is true.

She decided to try me out again and we saw each other.  She saw me getting baptized.  I tried to find the right church.  I finally found a church where I felt that the minister was talking to me.  It was the Riverside Baptist Church.

I got baptized the same day that, a week after I first arrived there and God was able to change a wrecked situation.  He was able to change something that I had totally ruined and create something wonderful out of it.

When we got married again, the whole family got married again.  When we got married again, I learned for the first time how to really love.  I used to be, before, a person that couldn’t cry.  I had no tears for anybody, I was very stoic.  But God opened up my heart, a heart of stone, and made it a heart that was alive for him.

You know, love is not something that you can learn by yourself.  Love is something that God can teach you.  It’s never too late.  I was 52 years old when it happened.  52 years.  And now I’m 59 and God has used me in a mighty way.  When I got married again, the whole family got married.

And now, my wife is helping me because not only am I an architect, but I am also a minister.  God has shown me what He wanted to do in my life.  He’s used me to help others that have struggled with an unhappy marriage, that have struggled with a divorce.

It’s never too late.  God can do miracles.  God is in the business of doing miracles.  He still will do miracles.  He’s an almighty God.

But we have to learn to put Him first.  We have to learn to humble ourselves.  We have to learn to ask for forgiveness.

1 John 1:9 says if we are willing to ask God for forgiveness, He will always forgive you.  He will always bring you back to Him.  He’s a mighty loving God.  He’s an ever loving God.

I’ve got involved in a ministry, Eric, and it’s something that I had never thought about.  It’s not something that I grew up thinking about.  But God called me to a ministry for Indonesians.  Now I’m serving Him every day.

ERIC:  Now you have 75 or so every week.

STAN:  Yeah, we have a ministry called the Riverside Indonesian Fellowship (www.riversideindonesianfellowship.org) where I minister to Indonesians.  It’s a satellite church to the Riverside Baptist Church.  I’m now an ordained ministerand my life is given over to service.  To tell others about how great a God we have.  How wonderful a God we have that is willing to forgive us no matter how much we have screwed up our life.

You know, you can’t find happiness in things, in material things, in houses, in cars, in anything.  You can only find happiness in a relationship with God.  That relationship is the first and foremost thing that is important in anybody’s life.

If any of you that listen to this, if you have a problem, if you feel that you’ve screwed up – and we all have – do not wait.  Ask God for help.  Ask Him to forgive you and He will come into your life.  He will come and live into your heart.  He will be a force in your life that’s unmistakable.  He will give you peace.  He’s the only One that can give you peace.

You know, looking back, Becky and I talked over the fact that I have changed so dramatically.  And we were talking about is that something that we could have done ourselves and we both decided that, looking back, you can see God’s hands in everything that we went through.  We can see God’s hand in bringing me down so from a proud person I learned how to be humble.  From a person that was interested in myself, I learned to love God first.

I learned how to love.  You know, this is an amazing thing.  I thought love had to do with doing a few things, saying a few things, but I didn’t understand that love means giving of yourself.  And seeing how another person loves you.

You know, for the first time, I realized that Becky truly loved me, that she was able to take me back, although I had hurt her so much.  And yet now we have a better marriage, better than ever.

Now, for the first time, we’re totally open.  We’re able to love one another, freely, openly.  And we’re able to get to know one another and communicate openly.

It’s a gift, it’s a gift from God, the ability to love one another.  It sounds kind of trite, it sounds easy, but for me it was the most difficult thing to do.  And now, I’m teaching others that we first have to love God and God has to then show us how we can love our fellow men.  Those are the most fundamental things.  But I’m here to say that there is nothing that God cannot do in your life.

ERIC:  If someone watching us just wanted to experience God the way you’ve experienced Him and really get to know Him the way you did, what would be just the simplest explanation you could give them for how they could take that first step?

STAN:  The first step is to realize who you are, that you are a person with a lot of sin.  And then you have to ask for forgiveness from God.  You have to repent.  You have faith in God and you have to surrender your life to God.  Surrendering means saying, “God, no matter what I have done, Lord, You know what I’ve done, and I’m asking You for forgiveness, and I’m asking you to come live in me.”  And God can then change your heart of stone into a heart of blood, a heart full of love.  And God will change everything about you.  You will become a new person in Him.

All the things that I had before, I might look the same, but inside of me they all have changed.  I used to be, before, for pro-choice.  And now I can’t think anything other than pro-life.  I don’t understand how I could ever have thought about pro-choice.

Before, I used to focus on myself.  You know, the basic problem with all of us is that we tend to focus on ourselves.  And what we really need to do is focus on God and then focus on somebody beyond ourselves.  What God has called us all to do is to serve Him and then love others.  Love God and love others.  And the only way to do that is to think beyond yourself.

So if you learn how to deal with others, and learn how to give yourself to others, then you’re fulfilling what God wants out of your life.

ERIC:  We’re going to take a few minutes to pray and I’d like to give people just some quiet time.  I’m going to play a little bit on the piano for just one or two minutes and let them just let these words soak into their heart.

Maybe they’re a person who is already a believer in Christ, but they’re going through a struggle that they feel like they’ve gone too far and they feel like they can’t be forgiven of something that they’ve done.  Maybe they just need to know that God can still forgive that, too.

Maybe they’re a person who has been through a difficult marriage or even a divorce and God wants to call them to reconcile with that person.  Maybe they’ve been on the edges of sin, or are fully enmeshed in sin and they just want to step out of that and step into the light.

Or maybe they’ve never put their faith in Christ, they’ve never answered the call of God on their life and they want to do that now.

We’re going to give you a chance to pray on your own about that for a minute or two and then Stan and I will come back and we will just say a prayer for you right here whatever your situation might be.  We’re just going to pray and ask God to speak into your life.  So as I play, just let these scriptures be on your heart.  You can read the scripture again from 1 John 1:9 on the screen and you can ask God what He wants to do in this time we have left together.

Music “Glory to the Lamb” written by Larry Dempse.

Scripture

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

ERIC:  Let’s pray together.

Lord, we just thank you for calling us.  Thank you for calling me, Lord, thank you for calling Stan.  Thank you for calling those who are watching and feel drawn to you right now.  God I pray for anyone going through a situation that they feel is too much for them to handle.  I pray that they would be able to put their trust in You, put their faith in You.  For anyone who wants that relationship with You like Stan has, I just pray that they would listen to his words, for they are words of Yours, God, and I pray that they would act on those and respond to those.

Lord, I pray for people who are struggling with divorce, are struggling with putting their trust fully in You, that as Stan prays right now that those people would hear the words that he speaks as being from a man who has seen the other side and he has come through.  And he has now seen what reconciliation looks like with his wife and with God through Jesus.  Lord, just let them listen to his prayer right now that they can be made whole.

STAN:  Oh, Lord, thank you Lord, for allowing me to get this gift that You have given.  Lord, I pray for all of those people that are going through troubles right now.  Lord, there are so many that have difficulty with their partners.  And Lord, they don’t feel that they love their partner anymore or are not loved by their partner.  And Lord, we want to ask Your guidance to show them that love is not a feeling that goes away.  Love is a commitment.  It’s the same commitment that You have for us.  It’s the same commitment that Christ has for His church.  And Lord there’s nothing that can take us away from Your love.  And so teach everyone Lord, teach everyone that is feeling real low, feeling despondent, feeling hurt, that if they turn to You, if they’re willing to turn to You first as You’ve said in Matthew 6:33 if we seek You first, O Lord, everything else will be taken care of.

And Lord I know that it seems impossible, but we have a God that works with the impossible.  We have a God that works miracles in relationships every day.  And Lord, teach us to be humble.  Teach us to be willing to ask for forgiveness.  Teach us to change our proud hearts into loving hearts, forgiving hearts, and hearts that are full of willingness to change.

Lord, before You called me, I was full of self-love, full of interest in myself, but You changed that.  And Lord I pray that for those that are feeling these very difficulties right now.  It might be that their wife has left them.  It might be that they’re in the middle of a bitter fight. It might be that their partner has cheated on them.   O Lord, it might be a myriad of other things.  There is nothingthere is absolutely nothing that God cannot fix.  If we are willing to turn and repent and ask God to come into our life.

And that is really the most important thing, that if we learn to seek Him and to ask Him into our life and then everything else will be solved.  This is what is the truth in my relationship. And if you are willing to humble yourself, you can experience peace, a peace that passes all understanding.  You can experience love, a love that is from God, a love that is overpowering, a love that is all-forgiving, a love that is willing to seek not it’s own, but seek the other’s comfort.

O there’s so much that we can learn about love, but it cannot happen unless we seek Him first, unless we have a relationship with Him.  And Lord, I pray that every one, no matter how much they feel lost in a relationship, or no matter how long they have put off this relationship with You, that You will rekindle that fire.  O God, only You can rekindle this and strengthen us and comfort us.  And Lord we pray that You will supernaturally change every heart that’s seeking You.

And Lord we pray for all of those that are hurting, and we pray that You can change everything for Your glory, for Your glory Lord.  Because all of this is for Your glory. We ask You this in the name of Jesus, Almighty Savior, Amen.

ERIC:  Amen.  Stan, I know that’s been encouraging to people and it’s wonderful to hear.  Here in my Bible you had written – when I gave you this Bible the first time – you wrote, “Visit by Eric Elder” and you dated it and you called this Bible a “Gift of God.”  Then when you got back with your wife – you had given me the Bible back – I had written here that I got a call from Stan and Becky that they were back together again.

After all that time of praying and just seeing God answer that prayer for a situation that did seem impossible.  Certainly from the outside, your wife didn’t want to get back together, your in-laws didn’t want you to get back together, you didn’t want to get back together, but God wanted you back together.  And the only way you could do that was to fully surrender to Jesus Christ.

So this always encourages me just to look in here again and even when I face difficult prayers to say that God does answer even those impossible cases.

I hope you’ve been encouraged by this tonight too.  We hope that you will check out the rest of The Ranch.  If you’d like to pray a specific prayer, you can go to Lover’s Leap at The Ranch.  And if you need to talk to someone, you can write us here at The Ranch and we’ll have someone get back to you who maybe has gone through a similar situation to you and they can pray with you very personally about your situation.

Thanks for coming and I hope you’ll join us here again at The Ranch.

Mitch & Dan

Note from Eric: When Mitch realized his anger at others was really displaced anger towards his Dad, he decided to do something about it. He found that the best way to renew his relationship was to try to express his own love to his Dad first. It wasn’t easy, but over time, love won out. A great story about renewing any relationships in our lives, told by Mitch and his Uncle Dan.

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Read The Transcript

MITCH: I was over at my friend’s house last year, a really good friend of mine, and I noticed every time him and his dad would come together in a room they’d just kind of give each other a big hug and a kiss, and his dad would leave by saying “I love you,” you know, and just me, coming from my father, I never got any of that, you know, I never got a hug or kiss or even “I love you,” you know, and I just felt a big hole in my heart almost, just thinking about “that’s what dad’s should do to their sons” you know, and I just felt like I missed that my whole life.

DAN: Mitch’s dad is my older brother, and Jack…Jack is a carbon-copy of my dad. And my dad and Jack both had a tough time of expressing love to their kids. I mean, there was never any doubt that my dad loved me and I know Mitch’s dad loves him, but it doesn’t come naturally to Jack to express that.

MITCH: I was angry at my dad, but at the time, I didn’t realize who I was angry at and I was living with my Uncle Dan and we would get into huge fights over little things.

DAN: He got really ticked off at me and a lot of other people and it was kind of like “Where’s this coming from?”

MITCH: After awhile went by and me and Dan’s fights kept going on, I went to a service with Dave Wilson talking and talked about his father and displaced anger and at first it didn’t click until he brought up the visualization of pulling the rope in, pulling back to see where the anger’s really coming from and he was talking about his dad, how his dad got him angry since his past history with his dad. You know, it came to mind, right then, that I was really angry at my dad and the whole time I was taking it out on my uncle.

DAN: I told Mitch at one point, “If you’re gonna get this affirmation from your dad, you’re gonna have to teach him. You’re gonna have to challenge him on this whole ‘I love you’ business and see what happens.”

MITCH: He told me to take the first step towards my dad and, you know, start saying “I love you” to him just on conversations on the phone, cause I didn’t get to see him much. And first, it was a little hard for me even to say, you know, and I finally got up the nerve to say it and he didn’t reply back the first time. He was just like, a pause on the phone, you know, and then “All right, good-bye.” And that even hurt worse.

DAN: I’d be sitting there waiting, “Come on, Jack, just say it! It doesn’t cost anything to say it back to the kid. And time after time, Mitch would be waitin’ and for it and he wouldn’t hear the words he needed to hear.

MITCH: I actually challenged my dad and I said, “Dad, you know, like, why don’t you say this? You know, I mean, like, I’m you’re son, you’re supposed to say this to your kids.” And he kind of gave me a response, he’s like, “Who are you to tell me to do something?” you know, like I’m just his son and he’s the one who tells things to be done. He didn’t know what to say, actually, after I asked him that. He didn’t know why he didn’t, you know. But after that conversation he actually said it afterwards and every conversation after that it seems to get, since I challenged him, he would begin to say it, “I love you” and stuff like that at the end and he really meant something. And now, recently, he’s been saying it before I even get to say it.

DAN: Slowly, but surely, it began to change. And the really cool thing was that Jack came out and visited Mitch last December and spent a lot of one-on-one time with Mitch.

MITCH: That weekend that he was there was probably the best weekend me and my father have ever had in our lives and we just…he showed a lot more affection towards me, you know, we’d just give each other hugs for no reason when we were in the room, we’d sit together, we’d hold hands. Actually, one night, I just…he was in bed, and I came up and I just actually went and laid in the bed with him, and it was just, it was really wierd at first, but he just turned over and just wrapped his arms around me and just, it was just a really good feeling to have that happen from your dad. Ever since that weekend, he’s just been, every time we see each other, he’s just, big, open arms, big hug, you know, saying “I love you” and, I don’t know, it’s just been a great relationship since then.

World Champion Cyclist Finds Christ

Note from Eric: I met Sue Novara-Reber on a missions trip to Swaziland. She shared with me her story about how she had been a world champion cyclist, winning medals for the U.S. at the World Championships and the Olympics. But at the height of her cycling career, she wondered if this was all there was to life. She was about to find out there was so much more–and it’s available to every one of us.

WORLD CHAMPION CYCLIST FINDS CHRIST
by Sue Novara-Reber

Click the link below to watch one of Sue’s most amazing cycling victories, then listen as she shares how each of us can make the most of our own lives here on earth, too. Also included below is a brief biography of her life.

Sue’s Bio

Sue Novara-Reber was born in Flint Michigan on November 22, 1955. Novara, like Eric Heiden, was a speed skater who switched to cycling and quickly became an outstanding rider. Sue won her first national sprint competition at age 16 at the 1972 nationals and at 19 years of age, she became the youngest cyclist to win the world sprint championships. Sue had a fierce rival in Sheila Young and they had a number of exciting head to head competitions. Sue also won the nationals in 74, 75, 77, 78, 79 and 80. Through 1981 Sue had won 7 gold medals and 3 silver at the sprint nationals.

Sue won 7 world championship medals including two gold as a sprint champion. Sue had collected more medals in the world championships then any rider in US history. She won 2 gold, 4 silver, and a bronze, (1975-1981). She never failed to finish in the top three during those years. At the 1975 world championships in Belgium, Sue won the match sprint, with Shelia Young coming in 3rd.

At the 1978 world championships in Munich Sue won her third successive silver medal in the match sprint. In 1979 Sue won her sixth career medal in the match sprint. The 3rd place bronze came at the 1979 world championships in Holland. In the 1980 world championships in France, Sue won the match sprint for the second time.

Sue’s final race was in Boulder Colorado in the 1984 Coors Classic International Cycling Race (which was the final tune up race for the 1984 LA Olympic games). 1984 was a special year. It was the year Marianne Martin won the women’s Tour De France, and Connie Carpenter won the Olympic road race in Los Angeles. All these women contributed to bringing cycling into the spotlight. Like Connie, Sue also retired after the 1984 season and she was hired by the USCF to prepare the women’s team for the 1987 Worlds, which under her direction, the team won 4 medals including a gold. She was inducted into the bicycle hall of fame in 1991. Sue married Mark Reber in 1977 and became known as Sue Novara-Reber.

We Considered Suicide

Note from Eric:  After the death of his father and mother, Paul discussed with his brothers and sisters what they were going to do without their parents.  As they considered suicide, a stranger came into their home and changed their lives forever.  Hear the story yourself as Paul tells it in both English and Tamil.

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WE CONSIDERED SUICIDE
by Paul

I praise the Almighty God for the privilege of sharing my testimony with you.

It was in 1974 my father died.  In ’69, my mother died.  Before the burial of my father, myself, and my elder brother, we both fell on the face of my deceased father crying, “Father, you have left us all alone.  We are blindfolded, left in the middle of the jungle.  We do not know what to do.  We do not know where to turn.  We do not know what we are going to do in our future.  We have no one to show us love.”  We cried.

After the funeral was over, all my relatives left.  We were 7 children, fully orphaned, and came to my house.  We were involved in a very serious discussion.  The discussion was how we can kill ourselves, how we can commit suicide.  Tears were rolling down.  We lost our heart.  Looking at each other, we were crying and crying.

I was born and brought up in an orthodox Hindu family.  My father was a very spiritual man.  He taught us how to observe all the rituals strictly.  Now all the gods, 330 million gods and goddesses, in whom we trusted, they had all forsaken us.  They all let us down.  Now, the whole family is going to die.

All of the sudden, a stranger came into our house, greeting us:  “Brothers and sisters, I’m here with your good news, your good news from the loving God, Jesus Christ.  Jesus loves you.  Jesus wants to help you.  Jesus wants to give you protection.  He’s more than your father.  He’s more than your mother.  I’m here to pray for you.”

We were surprised to have him there at the time.  Then he opened his Bible and he read from Deuteronomy chapter 31:8.  It says, “The Lord shall go before you.  He will be with you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Don’t be afraid.  Don’t be dismayed.  Fear not, for the Lord shall be with you.”

He prayed.  I asked so many questions, as well as my brothers and sisters.  “We worship so many gods, but now you are bringing a foreign god.  What is special with him?  How can he save us when all of our gods let us down?”

He told us, “The Lord whom we love, is a unique God.”  He told us, “Jesus is the Creator.  Jesus is the Sustainer.  Jesus is the Healer.  Jesus is the Savior.  Jesus went to the cross to die.  Jesus died for you on the cross of Calvary and shed his blood.  He brought the remission of your sins.  It is the free gift of God to you.”

Then he told us, “Jesus is unique in his virgin birth, in his virtuous life, in his vicarious death, in his victorious resurrection, and his visible return.”

Oh, we began to trust in Jesus Christ.  We started to put our faith in the Creator, in the Savior.  We began to love the name of Jesus Christ.

He made frequent visits to my family.  Myself and my brother, we accepted Jesus.  We wanted to follow him.  He has become our God and Savior.  He was our personal Savior.

He taught us the way of salvation, the need of baptism.  We accepted that.  We were baptized.  God gave us the peace that passes all understanding.

These things came to be known to my village.  All my relatives came to know about the new faith.  They decided, we had brought a great curse and wrath to the village.  They came to my house.  They talked to myself and my brother.  “They have to leave the village immediately.”

We were excommunicated.  We were sent out from that village.  For six years, we never had a chance to go to any of the funerals, any of the weddings.  We were unable to meet our brothers and sisters.  If at all we wanted to meet them, my brothers and sisters must come in secret and meet us.

But I praise God for the preacher.  He took us to a missionary.  Those people helped us to continue our studies by God’s grace.  I earned my master’s degree, as well as my brother.  My brothers and sisters understood what my Lord Jesus Christ could do for me and my brother.  They wanted to follow the same Jesus.

My relatives, my village people, they all came to know what the Lord has done to us.  Everyone wanted to believe on Jesus Christ.  I thank God, God was at work.  He helped my people to understand more about the saving power of Jesus Christ.

Now, if you go to my village you will find not a single non-Christian in that whole village.  All my people are blessed now.  God changed the entire life of my whole people.  They are enjoying the provisions of God and the blessings of the Almighty God.  He still lives.

Dear brothers and sisters, you may be in the position of committing suicide.  I beg and beseech you, don’t lose your heart.  You may be thinking, “All the medicines and positions have left me.  I have no hope in my life.”

No, brothers and sisters.  What is Jesus?  Jesus is the hope to the hopeless.  He loves you.  He can help you.  The Bible says, “God is our strong refuge and fortress.  He will help you in the times of your trouble.”

Don’t be afraid.  Don’t be afraid.  You just believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  He’s the Creator.  He died for you.  You need not die for everything.  You may be suffering financially.  You may be suffering from failures.  You may be in a great loss in your business.  You may be lacking for love.

Believe me.  The Lord who helped me can help you.  He’s still available to you.

If you want to follow this same Jesus, you need to do only one thing:  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  You will be saved.  Your household also will be saved.  Jesus gives you the peace.  Jesus, He’s the Way.  He loves you so much.  When we pass from this world, be assured, God shall definitely take you into the house that He went to prepare for you and me.  You will enjoy the everlasting life.

Would you like to accept this Jesus?  I just want to pray for you.

“Almighty God.  Years and years ago, you came to seek and save me Lord.  You are the unchanging Jesus.  You are still looking for the people who are wanting to commit suicide, who are thinking that they have no hope.  Lord, you are the Hope, you are the Life, you are the Resurrection.  I pray to you Lord, please, meet my brothers, meet my sisters, and all the people who are in need and want.  I pray in Jesus name.”

I once again want to thank brother Eric and I want to praise God for his wonderful ministry.  Thank you.

God’s Healing Touch

Does God still heal today?  Join me for this message for living proof that He does.  Chuck and Sharon Giacinto share their own life-changing story.  Take heart that the God of the Bible who “forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:3) is still alive and active today. (Recorded June 13, 1999)

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Message Notes

Psalm 103:1-5

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.   Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits– who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Matthew 9:20-22

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.  She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”  Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.

Outline

1.  The Biblical basis for healing in the past and present.

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:1-2)

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.  He told them….”When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.'” (Luke 10:1,8-9)

2.  Testimony of Chuck and Sharon Giacinto.

3.  God wants to increase your faith to be healed.

In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked.  He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him,saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. (Acts 14:8-10)

Closing and Prayer