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My parents had me baptized as an infant and I went through Confirmation classes as a teen. Until I went off to college, I attended church services and Sunday school quite regularly. I felt comfortable with the common religion I was involved with. I put money in the offering plate whenever I could and was kind and helpful to all I met. The rules and guidelines set forth to me by this religion were fulfilled, so I was going to heaven, right!?!
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
While in college, I drank quite a bit, but who didn't. It was a suitcase college, everyone partied on Thursdays and went back home on the weekends. After two years of college, I worked at a foundry for about a year. Then I attended vocational school for two more years, all in the same town.
When vocational school was over I moved back home for a while. My plan was to move further south where the winters were not so cold but I wasn't having much luck finding employment. Having been on my own for several years I had difficulty seeing eye to eye with my father and made plans to move to a different region of the United States. In September 1988, with a few hundred dollars in my pocket I threw some essential belongings in the car and started my journey. I took a tent along and slept in it at night. The following Sunday, however, it rained really hard all night long and flooded the tent. I spent the entire next day trying to find a decent, yet inexpensive room to stay in. I finally found a one room boarding house, for $65 a week.
A NEW BEGINNING
To begin with, I worked for temporary job placement organizations as much as I could. If the temp jobs slowed down it was hard making ends meet, but I always seemed to scrape up a little money to party with on the weekends. After a few months, I landed a temp job that became permanent. I never found a job related to my schooling.
I had just moved more than 750 miles from home and I had no friends or relatives in the area. So as soon as I got settled into the boarding house I sought out a singles group affiliated with the same religion I was used to - in hopes of making some new friends. The members of this group hosted various gatherings every two or three weeks, besides regular weekly meetings. I was comfortable with the group and I rarely missed a meeting or one of the special gatherings.
About a year later I had moved to a better apartment and felt it was time for me to host one of these special events. I was excited to have my new friends over and skipped that morning's meeting to prepare all of the food, etc. To my surprise, none of the members seemed to need my friendship as much as I needed their's. Nobody showed up that day and I never saw any of them again, but I did eat well that next week.
A NEW LIFE
The years of drinking had managed to put a tire shaped ring around my mid-section and I began to feel a little more self-conscious about my health and appearance. I had always enjoyed weight-lifting and before long, I had gathered all the equipment I needed by visiting local yard sales. Now the only problem was finding the time to exercise. It sure did feel good to sit in front of the TV after a long day at work, so I decided to set up my weight-lifting equipment in the living room. Now I could exercise while watching my favorite shows.
By this time I had found another singles group, at a church of the same type. I had also found an Evangelist on TV that used weight-lifting and feats of strength as a tool to captivate viewers. The more I exercised, the more of a habit it became. Eventually I moved the weight-lifting equipment to the spare bedroom. I continued to listen to the Evangelist (often while I exercised) and grew more and more captivated by his words.
One day I was doing "military presses" (this exercise works the shoulder muscle by pushing the weight above your head from the shoulders). Because of my height, I had to do these military presses on my knees, otherwise the weights would hit the ceiling. At that point I heard the Evangelist on television speak about having a personal relationship with Jesus, and was puzzled. How could I have a personal relationship with someone who lived so long ago and was now in a place called Heaven? Never the less, this idea captivated me and while still on my knees I asked God to introduce me to this man called Jesus, and show me how I too, could have a personal relationship with Him.
Suddenly I felt a change come over me, like I had never felt before. It was like my eyes had been opened for the first time and my conscience had been renewed. I had received the gift of the Holy Spirit. My Spirit had been given life just as my body had been given life at the time of my birth. I got up off the floor and immediately found the "dirty" magazines I had enjoyed on occasion, and threw them in the bottom of the trash. I had been instantly delivered from this nasty habit and have never been tempted since. From that point on I could not listen to most of the secular music I had once loved and eventually replaced it all with music that praised the name of Jesus. Interestingly enough, I didn't quit drinking right away (of course I slowed down considerably) but have not visited a bar or saloon since that day. Several months later I got tired of it and quit entirely. Now I don't like the taste of alcohol at all.
In March of 1990 the Holy Spirit took over my life and what a wonderful change it has been. As you noticed, I didn't have to "clean up my act" before receiving Jesus as my Savior, but He began cleaning me up the instant I called upon Him. Now I know what a wonderful experience it is to have an active and personal relationship with my creator and friend, Jesus Christ.