I was born in a suburb of a major city in New York state. I grew up in a tiny village of about a 1000 people, where I lived, until I graduated from college. I was raised by Christian parents that brought me to church from when I had to be carried into church. My Dad taught Sunday School, my Mom was active in church, my grandfather on my Dad's side was a pastor. Life was good and quite normal, which later changed.
My Dad died of a heart attack while on a business trip to Europe, when I was 12 years old. Within a few years after my Dad's death my Mom remarried. The man she married turned out to be a violent alcoholic that my mother, brother and I lived with for about 5 years. I could present a whole chapter's worth of input on the miseries of this time period in my life but won't.
However to provide a few examples of what life was like I can remember my Mom's x-husband badly abusing my Mom who is very kind and gentle. My brother and I often sat in the other room with loaded guns that we were ready to use on him, should his abuse become so extreme that we needed to protect the life of my Mom. He once tried to kill my brother.
During this time period we didn't go to church. I grew up a rural village of about a 1,000 people with the nearest town of 5,000 being about 8 miles away. There wasn't much to do to distract me from the ugly reality that I confronted on a daily basis. Although I swore I would never by an alcoholic, like my Mom's x-husband. I came very close. I starting hanging out with bad influence young people a few years older than me. At this time the drinking age was 18 in New York, but I was able to regularly get into bars at age 16. I also had older friends that would buy me any alcoholic beverage I wanted.
The partier type people I hung out with were also into drugs and lots of them, I regularly smoked pot and hashish (its concentrated form). I also have taken speed (amphetamines), phycoledic mushrooms, opium and LSD.
I Became a Homosexual Prostitute, Pimped My Wife Out For Drug Money,
As one might image hanging out this type of people I was living a immoral and often times illegal life with little regard for man or God's laws. Out of boredom and the affects of drugs and alcohol, I often participated in dangerous activities with little fear of the possible results. I engaged in high risk activities such as illegal street racing, once a friend and I out ran the state police at 140MPH. One of my best friends got decapitated as the result of a crash from racing another friend of mine. I raced open class (the largest and fastest motors) motocross. Extreme off roading in trucks going up long very steep hills in this area, where if something goes wrong, the truck will likely roll about 50 times before bursting into flames. Looking back on all of these activities I had many close calls and opportunities for death.
But Thought I Was Saved
I can remember that my return to the Lord began with the Holy Spirit calling out to me even when it was not expected. I was quite drunk and stoned one evening listening to heavy metal rock with my friends, as I often did. I tell you most of this music is down right demonic. I listened to bands with the following titles and songs, with the following titles as good examples: Judas Priest (Screaming for vengeance, breaking the law, etc.); Black Sabbath ; AC/DC (Highway to Hell); Van Hallen (Running with the Devil). [Young people and parents of young people, read the lyrics of the popular music you listen to, most of it is also clearly anti God!] Anyway during this evening the lyrics of the songs started to creep me out, as thoughts of Hell entered my mind.
I thought to myself Once Saved Always Saved as was taught in the church I grew up in. But then I thought how could I possibly still be saved as I lived as a vile, rebellious lost person in the sight of almighty God, this scared me. I tell you if I had not rejected this devilish false doctrine I would not be standing here giving this testimony, because I would have felt secure in my sinful state, when scripture clearly states that those that are living as I was are children of Satan, even if they once were children of God.
Gradually over a period of years I became more interested in departing from this lost life style and becoming re-acquainted with God. Sin has eternal consequences if we do not repent of our sin, which means to leave that sinful lifestyle. In addition to this there are also consequences of sin in our life. I believe this and the scriptures back this up, I believe that some of the problems I still have are the likely results of sins of the past, even though I have repented of these sins. Such as possible medical affects of doing so much drinking and drugs in the past. Affects of immorality such as having a wife that is not at my side in church. but is being deceived by the Watchtower Society of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Briefly some of the false teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses are Jesus is Michael the archangel; hell is the grave; only 144,000 go to heaven; the Holy Spirit is God's active force; etc. I added these few details as all of you listening will sooner or later be in contact with the JWs and MUST not listen to these DEADLY teachings. (Please continue to pray that God leads my wife to the truth and salvation.)
The church I grew up attending the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, to me it was ritualistic, go to church, after church do some small talk and see you next week. I did some serious church hopping, looking for a church I liked, at the same time I began reading the new testament from start to finish. I compared what I was reading to what I was learning about the churches I attended. All seemed to have some aspects that were in agreement with the scriptures and some that were not, most of the churches I visited had some major teachings that conflicted the scriptures I was reading and comparing them to. One of these is the doctrine of Once Saved Always Saved, which I grew up with. I have done some major research on this doctrine and can readily and irrefutably prove that it is false. If any of you have any questions about this or any other false teaching I will be glad to talk to you about these, as I have researched them all extensively.
This brings me to the final part of the presentation outline: Beginning and continued Christian growth. As often happens when one begins to turn to God trying circumstances can come along that either make one draw closer to God or reject him and return to a lost life of sin. This time period was in the mid 90's.
One Saturday morning I decided that I would rotate my truck tires. It was a hot, humid, ozone alert day as I proceeded with this task. I was putting the second tire back on the wheel when I felt a sharp pain shoot through my left shoulder blade. The tires on my truck are large and heavy, I thought, I must have pulled a muscle in my shoulder blade. Then the pain quickly spread to my chest and down my left arm. I immediately thought that these are signs of a heart attack, as I was familiar with these symptoms because my Dad died of a heart attack when he was in his mid 40's. But, then the stage of denial set in, maybe it was heat stroke, the flu, food poisoning - besides I am only in my mid 30's, far too young to have a heart attack! Since my Dad died of a heart attack, I have eaten a relatively lean diet and always stayed very active.
When I arrived at the hospital they confirmed that I had a relatively major heart attack, which destroyed about 20% of my heart. During the week I was in the hospital, one day my heart began to beat very fast and erratically, I thought for sure I was going to die! I pressed the Nurse help button, as I waited for her to arrive, I thought well this is it! I also prayed, "God into your hands I place my life". Thankfully after a few shots and a new IV my heart began to stabilize. I was out of work on medical leave for a whole month during this time period doing cardiac rehabilitation. It was also necessary for me to begin a strict diet that is about 90% vegetarian and includes strong medications to reduce my cholesterol level which I will likely be on for life.
In the beginning of the following month I returned to work and things seemed to be finally returning to normal. At the end of that month, 30 other employees and I were laid off, so much for things returning to normal! I prayed Lord please help my find another job quickly I have a family to support as well as my Mom and sister who I am assisting financially. During the prior month when I was on medical leave it was an unpaid leave of absence.
Shortly there after as the feeling of uncertainty due to unemployment hit me, as I sat at home on a workday, the phone rang. It was the Landlord of the house I rented for nearly 5 years, she informed me that she had sold the house, I had two weeks to be out. This caused a lot of confusion, because I had no idea where or when I would be working next. We moved to a considerably cheaper, nearby apartment.
During this period of my testimony, my wife was pregnant. On 2 occasions during her pregnancy, she experienced premature contractions that resulted in a stay at the hospital, during which time we almost lost the baby. Medical leave of absence was necessary for my wife, now the only family income would be reduced to 2/3 of its regular amount; my wife wasn't in a high paying position either.
During my 3rd month of unemployment, I thought why has this happened to me? I've done all of the right things for a secure, rewarding career, including obtaining two college degrees, taking continuing education classes to enhance my software knowledge and even learning a foreign language. I reflected on the last 6 months and thought what else can go wrong? I remembered the verses of Proverbs 3:4-5 - Trust in the Lord your God with all of your heart... which I tried to do although very difficult.
Yes, there was more, one evening during this time period while my family was visiting my Mom, we received a call. A good long time friend of my wife and I had been killed in a car/train accident along with her young daughter and 2 of her daughter's 2 young friends. The funeral was very sad our friend's mom and son were breaking down with grief as the train could be heard in the background as the final verses of the graveside service were said.
During this 6 month time period I did my best to keep the faith by regularly attending church, trying to read the Bible daily and praying frequently. During the nearly 4 months of unemployment I received 1/3 of my regular pay. A few years back I decided to my 10% of my income tithe as directed in the Bible in verses (Leviticus 27:30, 32 and Numbers 18:21).
I continued this tithing during my unemployment, even though it was difficult to give a 10th of the 3rd of my regular pay I was receiving in unemployment payments. In the Bible verses (Luke 4:12) of the story of Christ's temptation by the devil, the devil tells Jesus to jump off the top of a tall building and that his angles will prevent him from being hurt. Jesus told the devil that you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.
However, there is an exception, when referring to tithing, the Bible in verses (Malachi 3:10) challenges us to put God to the test. In this verse God says give me your first fruits, 1/10th of your income or more and see if I don't open the skies of heaven and shower you with more blessings than you can image. I strongly encourage you to support God's work.
In the book of Psalms in various verses the Bible indicates clearly that God will be with us even through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23), but we must maintain our faith in him.
The Other Side of Adultery - Horrible Guilt
All of these 3 areas of the Bibles teachings now have even more significance in my life as after this nearly 4 month period of unemployment I started a new, better job than I had previously. This job was a lot closer to home than the previous job. The benefits were much better and the pay increase was enough to more than make up for the amount I lost by being unemployed for nearly 4 months. My daughter is now happy and healthy, as am I.
Recently there have been signs at the company where I have worked for nearly 10 years that there may be a layoff coming. Well it came quicker than anticipated a few hundred employees were recently laid off, I was one of them.
So more uncertain trying times lie ahead, but I am fully confident that the good Lord will continue to provide for me and my family through this and any other challenge that may come along. (Please keep me in your prayers regarding this as well).
We are all called as an order to witness to others about Jesus this includes from the youngest child to the oldest adult. When you commit your ways to those of the Lord, amazing things will happen in your life to allow you to accomplish the plan the Lord has for you in your life. He is able to use your experiences and circumstances in remarkable ways to accomplish his plan.
A few examples of this are as follows. Because of what I have been involved with in the past when I was far from the Lord, he has now enabled me to speak to others that are in the same situation I was, such that I can relate to and communicate to them unlike those that have never lived that lifestyle.
I remember growing up in my tiny town in upstate New York and taking a foreign language in Jr. High School. It was difficult to me and I dropped out of this class, thinking that it was stupid on my part to try to learn this language as no one in this area spoke this language.
In mid 90's I married a woman who is still my wife, she knew little English at that time . Foreign speaking JW's deceived my wife when I knew little about this group and nothing about this foreign language. This greatly upset me and still does. I vowed that I would learn this language so that I would always know what was going on around me and with my wife. God has enabled me through taking night classes and practicing with any speaker of this language that will let me, to become quite fluent in this language.
I am now working with a ministry in which I am regularly witnessing to people who speak this foreign language from around the world, often being able to witness to 5-8 people a week. God has provided translators to help us from 3 different countries. Thousands have visited our growing website and the rate of visits continues to grow. All the glory and praise for this goes to God who has taken a negative experience and turned it around to fulfill his great commission. When you know and are doing God's will in your life it brings great satisfaction, such that little else is important in comparison.
If any of you are struggling with trying to find out what God's will is for them in there life and how to determine this, I will be glad to help them determine this. Also due to my extensive involvement in dealing with false teachings and false teachers, let me know if I can assist in these areas as well. God has given me some unique abilities in this area which I am anxious to share with anyone who I can help by doing so.
As a word of encouragement please know that for the real Christian MUCH BETTER DAYS are ahead and he has the BEST THING GOING -- much more precious than 1 million dollars.
I feel God has blessed me much more that I deserve and more than I can ever repay. This is why I wanted to share this testimony with you so that you too will realize the importance of developing and/or maintaining a strong faith through good times as well as bad times.
It is my desire that you will consider taking God's challenge in your life to increase or maintain your tithing. Also to become serious about evangelism as the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few. I can assist any who are interesting in doing these very needed and worthwhile efforts.
Who will help the Lord with the harvest at hand? Send me Lord, send me! What will your answer be to this question?
Thank you for permitting me to give this testimony, may God bless you as he has me. Amen.