Category Archives: Personal Journey With Jesus

A Pig is Washed A Second Time-Conclusion

My personal story of God’s grace and forgiveness

______________________________________________________________________

Conclusion of my testimony.
A Quick Review

As I have told in the previous two posts, my life started with a godly grandmother.  Later in my youth I turned to atheism.  My unbelief had its roots in Vacation Bible school and the description of an eternally burning hell. The logic of a professor in college solidified my reason to be a complete unbeliever.

But, then I was challenged by my first wife to study the Bible to prove her wrong.  After reading and studying intently, I discovered Jesus was all He claimed to be!  I repented of my sins and asked Jesus to come into my life.  For 20 years I was active for the Lord.  I knew him well and would often spend time with Him in the morning praying and talking with Him like my grandmother had done when I was younger.

I had a very popular Bible class at my church each weekend.  The Lord blessed me and my Christian friends in prison ministry.  I was on the front page of a world-wide magazine.  The article about my ministry was called “A Banker Goes To Prison.”  One of my best friends and I had a radio ministry for years called “Answers From Scripture.”  I was chosen by my church to take part in the Billy Graham crusades as a counselor where the Lord worked through me to bring people to Christ.

_________________________________________

The First Step Back

As described before, my Jesus journey came to an end through my own choice encouraged by tragedy and selfishness in my life.  Then for 10 years, I “took my inheritance” and lived it up.  I had no conviction for my sin and was “dead in sin.”  But, soon the money and good times began to fade.

Last time I mentioned passing a policeman while speeding out of my neighborhood.  I had been drinking and had just left a nasty argument with my second wife. I will pick up the story from here.

Just as I passed the officer, going in the opposite direction, the blue lights came on immediately.  I already had one DUI on my record from years earlier.  I was tempted to run, but instead I immediately pulled over and said, my first prayer in almost ten years.

“Lord, please keep me out of jail.”

The police officer came up to my window.  I knew he would be able to smell the beer on my breath.

“In a big hurry?”

“Yes, sir.  I was going too fast.” I said this without looking at him fearing my breath would give me away.

“Can I see your license?”

“Sure.”

He then asked,

“Do you live in this neighborhood?”

“Yes sir, I am about half of a mile from home”

“I would recommend you go back home.” Those words sounded familiar and encouraging. It was God-like….

“Yes sir, I will turn around here and head back that way.” 

Whew!  He let me go!  I was so relieved.  My second prayer was,

“Thank you Lord!”

Although I didn’t know it at that time, this was my single step back towards my home with Jesus.

The incident with the policeman stayed with me.  I began to think about my drinking and how I was ruining my health and putting others in danger.

Then the Lord began to work in my life. I had open the door just a little.

Job Loss Again!

My company reorganized and my job was eliminated.  This move took me off the road and away from an extravagant routine of drinking and eating in fine restaurants.  But, again, I was out of work and had enough money to last a few months.  Cashing in some stock options allowed me to buy a little boat and keep the bills paid.  So for several weeks, I enjoyed the beauty of a nearby lake, fishing, and some drinking.

I decided to start going to Wednesday night prayer meetings at a local church of my own denomination.  I requested prayer to help me find a job. Since I knew many people in the banking field, I began to network with them.  The jobs advertised on the internet seemed to be a dead-end.  I was starting to lose hope, especially because of the bankruptcy on my credit report.  Often bank jobs require a review of your credit report and a bankruptcy will prohibit hiring or, at the very least, encourage the employer to choose someone else with better control over their finances.

God Takes Care of Me

I went on an interview downtown.  It didn’t go well, but as I was walking back to my  truck,  my path crossed with a local bank executive whom I had worked for in my early years.  We had a pleasant conversation and he told me of a position in a different county just south of where I lived.  He said it had been posted on the internet for some time.  I evidently had missed it because I had limited my search on the internet with this particular bank by the county in which I lived.

When I returned home that afternoon, I looked up the job and immediately made a call to the number listed.  I used the name of the bank executive as a lead-in to get past the Human Resource Department and directly to the hiring manager.  By the next day, I had an interview.

The interview went well, but I just didn’t think the nice younger man would hire me.  Anyway, how about the credit report and the bankruptcy?  Even if he wanted me to work there, would the bankruptcy on my record ruin it all?

I was back on the lake the next day enjoying the sunshine and catching a few fish.  I even took a nap under the quite blue skies.  The lake was almost void of people because it was a weekday. I was beginning to feel the presence of God again.

Later that day as I was driving home, I received a phone call.  It was the nice young man at the bank calling to give me the bad news….at least that is what I assumed, instead he asked,

“Is this Eddie?”

“Yes sir!”

“How is your day going?”

“Pretty good” was my weak response.  My confidence level was way  down.   I expected to hear the bad news, as I had heard times before.

Well, I have some good news for you. My heart jumped!

 We want you to come to work for us at $xxxx (much more than I expected) and with a VP title (I didn’t expect a title, much less a VP title!)

That is great!  When do you want me to start?  I tried to not sound too excited and I had a lump in my throat mostly because I felt a surge of God’s presence…It was as if He said, “I can take care of you like before if you will just let me.”

“How about Monday?”

“Yes that will be fine.”

“I’ll be there!  Thank you so much!”  My words were short, because I knew I was about to shed some tears.

 When I got off the phone, I pulled my truck over on the side of a busy road and began to cry.  I thought of the prayer meetings and the “accidental” meeting of a bank executive in such a large city.  The job was waiting for me.  It had not been filled. A coincidence?  No!  It was the Lord who knew my needs.

I started to work on Monday.  I was concerned about not having any health insurance for 90 days.  This would become very important over the next few weeks because I was about to have a life changing event.

________________________________________________________________

My Past Life Style Catches Up With Me

About this time, as expected, the creditors came and picked up my truck and my Harley Davidson motorcycle.  I was without transportation.  Fortunately, my cousin had a “junker” that I could use. It was an old ugly rusty Oldsmobile.  Driving this car humbled me.  Also, the trips to the lake were no longer possible since I didn’t have a truck to pull my small runabout boat.

I put everything into my new job….so grateful to be working and making money again!

My insurance finally kicked in after the 90 days.  This was very fortunate.

As I was sitting at my desk, I felt a tightness in my chest and decided to go to the break room.  It didn’t let up.  So I went out to my rusty Oldsmobile and laid back in my seat.  No relief.  I began to sweat, so I started up the car and drove to my doctor’s office.  I could barely walk into the building.  When I got to the front desk, I told them I was having chest pains and the doctor came running out and instructed the nurse to put me into a wheel chair.  She rushed me over to the hospital next door.  I could not breath and felt like I was going to faint.

I could make this a long story, but I will summarize here.  I had a blockage in the vein known as “The Widow Maker.”  I had an option for open heart surgery or a stent.  I chose the stent.  This helped for about a year, when I had a second attack after a long bicycle ride.  The next attack required bypass surgery.

My extravagant life style and drinking had finally caught up with me.

The night before the surgery Jerry, the new pastor of the church I once attended  came by to visit.  He had prayer with me and I felt at ease.

The surgery went well and I was back at work within 2 weeks and grateful to God to be alive.

But returning to God after a long time is like being in a car accident and having your legs broken.  You have to learn to walk again. God had worked through a police officer (lesson on mercy) and near death through a couple of heart attacks (consequences of sin) to get my attention.  But there was more before I would finally decide to go home.

_____________________________________________________________

Do You Know That Young Man?

One night, my second wife and I attended a function downtown.  It was a very classy event with evening gowns and expensive suits.  As we left the event and walked towards our car and the valet attendant, I remembered my overcoat and went back inside to get it while my wife asked for our car.

When I started back and was near my waiting car and wife, I noticed one of the attendants staring at me.  It felt a little odd that I would notice since I was hurrying along and a little tipsy from the drinking.  The eyes of the young man who looked Ethiopian seemed to penetrate my soul.

When I got in the car and drove away, the young man was still looking.  My wife asked,

“Do you know that young man?”

” I don’t think so. But, he looks familiar.”

Then my wife said something that would bring back that familiar feeling of conviction.  Unknowingly, her words would lead me to take another big step back to God.

“That young man came over and asked me if you were Eddie.  I told him, yes that is Eddie. He then told me you had one of the best Bible classes.  He said you probably don’t know how much your teaching helped him with his journey with Jesus.  Eddie, I didn’t know you were a Bible teacher.  I have learned something new about you tonight.”

Great conviction ran throughout my being.  It was like an electrical bolt of lightning through my conscience.  I thought of my wild lifestyle and the many people I had hurt. But even more, I thought of the once effective witness I had been for Jesus that had been ruined by my decision to ask Him to go away.

I didn’t want my wife to see me cry so I held it in behind moist eyes and a huge knot in my throat.

A Cautious Return to Church

A few days later I asked my wife if she would go to church with me.  She seemed surprised, but willing to go.  We were of different denominations, so I knew it would be a little odd for her and I appreciated her willingness to go.  In over 5 years of marriage, we had never gone to church or even discussed religion.

As we entered the big church, I told her I didn’t know which Bible class to go in so I looked in the window of the first  door.   Inside was one of my former class members (from earlier years) teaching the class.  I said, to my wife,” Let’s go in this one.”

The class had already started and all the eyes of the people in the circle of chairs seemed to be staring at us.  My former class member teaching the class, Maurice, stopped and then began to introduce me.  He said,

“I want you all to meet Eddie.  Many years ago, I attended his class and he had a great influence on me.”

Tears came to his eyes and he stopped talking.  I, too, felt tears and that familiar lump in my throat.  That day we had a inspiring time in the class and the service afterwards.  It was great to see so many people I had not seen in almost 10 years.  It felt good to be back in church.

Conviction and Doubt

Later in the week, I was under great conviction, but was worried that God would not take me back. It seemed like I had forgotten everything I ever taught and the Bible verses that meant so much to me.   I felt the familiar tug of the Holy Spirit to give in to Jesus knocking loudly on the door of my heart.  I spoke to the Lord and said,

“Lord, see all that I have done.  I asked you to go away.  How can you ever forgive me and make things right again?”

Then a passage of scripture came to my mind.

 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry;  for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

Luke 15: 20-24

This was me!  The Father still wanted me back!

 I wept and I wept….The sin seemed to drain out of my soul like filthy water.

Not only would God take me back, but He was waiting and looking for me to come home and away from the filthy pig pen.  Then he ran towards me, kissed me, and put on me his warm and comfortable robe of righteousness.

What a feeling! I was back home!

A few weeks later, Jerry (the new pastor of the church I once attended and who visited me in the hospital) re-baptized me.

Returning to the Start

I would like to say that I lived happily ever after, but as I mentioned at the start, the effects of 10 years of riotous living, eating anything I pleased, and drinking affected my health and my relationship with my children.  In fact, the alcoholism went away slowly.  My new life in Christ and my Jesus journey even caused conflict with my second wife and we would eventually go our separate ways.

The job I had received because of much prayer was eliminated due to a merger and I went to work for another bank which ended the same way. I found another job in a distant city and was there for 9 months away from my wife and my home.  But, there was a purpose for me being there.  God used me to help bring my son-in-law to Christ.

 I enjoyed the people, but a new job offer in my home city came and I took it so I could be in my house and with my wife.  But, the effects of the many arguments had taken a toll on both of us and after a nasty argument and the police showing up, we divorced.

Within 3 months of our divorce, I lost my job at the local bank.  So here I was again.  Divorced and with no job.  I had enough money to last about 6 months.  With my wife’s income and mine, we had bought a big house in the country.  I loved it.  I wanted to retire there one day.  The big house was lonely.  Only a couple of cats to keep me company.  The winter of loneliness was like a wet cold blanket on me.

Same Troubles. A Different Response.

But this time, I gave all my worries and depression to the Lord.  I told him that even if I lost the house and everything, I would trust him.  I started to meet and talk with Him every morning.  He reminded me to:

“seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Matthew 6:33

My favorite verse became,

Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

Meeting the Lord each morning for Bible study and prayer often lasted for hours.  I spent more time walking and talking with the Lord than I did with  searching for a job.

I trusted that God knew my heart and my needs, but I was willing to go through another bankruptcy and foreclosure if that was what was required of me as long as I had the Lord and his warm robe of righteousness around me.

I was so lonely, I began to inquire of the Lord about a third chance at marriage.  I described to Him that I would like a woman who also was of the same faith, that loved Him, but was not too stuffy or religious.

Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

The Lord gave me the desires of my heart.  He found me a job in a different city.  I didn’t lose my house, but was able to sell it.  I miss it greatly, but I have another house in my new city with  my new wife who loves the Lord and is my true soul mate.

An unexpected check in the mail came that was enough for us to put a down payment on our simple home and have enough left over for furniture.  But, the first thing I did with the money was to  give a tenth to the Lord  and a “thank offering.”

I have been with this position at the bank for over four years.  My wonderful wife of three years is so different and sweet.  We enjoy each other’s company and love to pray together.

I was away from the Lord for 10 years and it has been about 10 years since He ran towards me and gave me that warm comfortable robe of His righteousness.

Our journey back to God can be difficult with slips and slides along the way.  God let’s us see how weak we are without him so that we won’t tell Him to go away ever again.  It is the difficult times and the decision we make to cast all our cares  on Jesus that makes the difference.

Each one of us are on a journey with Jesus.  Our experiences might be different, but Jesus is the same.

Jesus is true when He says,  “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  This I know.  I left Him, but He didn’t leave me.  I came back, but some do not.

I think of the two young men who were just as on fire for the Lord as me when I first began my Jesus journey.  They left the Father like me.  But, I returned;  they have not.  Lord,  save them a second time like you did me.

I can see how the Lord worked with me, but it was not until I took that single step back to Him that He began to work in my life to save me a second time. Then he built my faith up like a broken bone that is stronger when it heals back.  My faith in Him is stronger now than ever.  I now live it by faith and in obedience to His word.  I am not perfect, but I have a big brother who is not ashamed to call me brother.  He intercedes for me.

For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren

Hebrews 2:11

It is extremely important to remember that during my dark days there were people praying for me.  I am a big believer in intercessory prayer because I am a recipient of its power. So, don’t ever give up on those prayers for those you love…that have departed and gone back into the world.  There is hope only in Christ.

It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Romans 8: 34-35

The Journey continues.  The happy ending comes when Jesus returns. Until then, He is able to complete the work He started in you….but you have to choose.  Even so Lord Jesus come…..

______________________________________

A Clean Pig Returns to the Mud-Part 2 (The Trials Kept Coming!)

A personal testimony of the reality of God’s grace….

Billy Graham once said,

“Suffering in life can uncover untold depths of character and unknown strength for service. People who go through life unscathed by sorrow and untouched by pain tend to be shallow in their perspectives on life. Suffering, on the other hand, tends to plow up the surface of our lives to uncover the depths that provide greater strength of purpose and accomplishment. Only deeply plowed earth can yield bountiful harvests.”

I am opening up and making myself vulnerable in this post.  I am letting many people see deep into my experience or, as I call it, my Jesus journey.  This was painful to write and it brought back many bad memories.  Tears were shed as I recalled the many people I hurt including myself!  But, I have been moved to share my testimony, (even the falling away part) to encourage any person on their Jesus journey who has struggles that seem insurmountable.  The answer for you is the same as it was (and is) for me.  You will find it, only in Jesus Christ.

  We are all alike in many ways regardless of our circumstances, but the outcome is sometimes different.  May you be encouraged as you see how the Lord can take someone like me who was “dead in sin” and breath life back into his soul.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

___________________________________________

As I ended the previous writing, I mentioned 1994.  At that point, it had been almost 20 years of active service for God when things begin to change in my experience.  I was being tested and I failed miserably. It is true….not everyone passes the test. Why? Because the Lord gave us the power of choice.  I chose badly.

Following is my story about returning to the mud and choosing to separate myself from the One who promised me the gift of eternal life.

____________________________________________________________

The Trials Kept Coming

I had suspected something was not right for weeks.  So many signs.  A different attitude about things.  I am not talking about myself, it was my wife and the mother of my three beautiful children.

And then like a bolt of lightning the truth came striking out at me.  Hotel rooms, secret meetings, telephone calls.  I fell on my face and wept like a baby.  It hurt deep to know what I learned. I couldn’t catch my breath from the pain!

The next several weeks included moving out, more weeping, talking late at night, wondering about by myself as a husband and father. But, it is here where I made my mistake.  It was my own choice.  Like Jacob, I should have wrapped my arms around the feet of the Lord and insisted I would not let Him go unless He blessed me…But I didn’t.  Instead, I wallowed in my misery.  This would cost me dearly!

Next came a few sessions with a marriage counselor who knew little of what I was feeling.  She had the nerve to excuse my wife’s actions and minimize my feelings by telling me to think of it as her vacation!  What?!!!  That was the final straw.  No more counselors.  I needed healing quickly and completely.

The Great Healer was right there waiting, but I didn’t turn to Him!  If you don’t get anything out of this blog, please remember to turn to Christ immediately if you are faced with hurt and trials! The hurt kept me away.  All that I had learned and taught did not come to mind.  I had once told a Bible class, “If you take a single step towards God, He will come running to you.”  These words and reality would show up 10 years later in a strange set of circumstances.

Why did I not wrestle with God?

“I will not let you go unless you bless me” never came from my lips.

Sadly, my own grieve was about to explode into a full indulgence of rebellion.  It would even lead to death. My own death.  I would be dead in sins.

 We talked.  We tried.  We cried. We took a trip.  But when we came back I filed for divorce.

__________________________________________________

Sickness

One Spring day, I received a call from my wife who had taken our daughter to the doctor.  As a result of some tests, she was to call the hospital at 4:00 PM for the results.  She wanted me with her to talk with the nurse.  She was scared, which scared me.  When we came back from our trip to try and make our marriage work, we both noticed one of our daughters had bruises on her legs.  This led to all sorts of questions and concerns.

4:00 came and I dialed the number.

Hello, I am calling about the results of my daughter’s test.”

“Oh yes.  Hold on for a second.”

It felt like hours until the nurse came back on the phone.

“Could you bring your daughter to the hospital?”

“Of course.  When?”

“We need you to bring her now.”

“Sure.  We are on our way.”

We quickly, put together a small bag and change of clothes for our daughter and we arrived at the hospital within an hour of the phone call.

We all sat down at the desk while the nice nurse began to type information into the computer.  I was positioned where I could see her typing.  Then I noticed it.  A lump came in my throat and I wanted to run from that room, but I had to be strong.

Leukemia!

No! Lord!  NO!

We checked her in and the next day began a series of painful tests including a needle in her back.  I held her hand while she cried out, “Daddy, make them stop.”  I cried with her.  I had to be strong.  My wife had long since run down the hall away from the torture room.

They finally got the sample from her spine and we returned to her room that would become her home for several weeks.

The next day, two doctors came into our room and told us,

“It is not Leukemia.”

I felt a big load off my heart.

“It is Aplastic Anemia.”

That didn’t sound too bad until the Doctors began to explain it.

The load of pain returned to my heart.

Thus began weeks of trying to find a bone marrow donor. No match!

The doctor encouraged us to start thinking about final arrangements.  They gave her a 20% chance.

I could take it no longer, I walked down to the local bar and asked the bartender for something to drink.  Why did I not run to God? Thus began years of drinking.

Aplastic Anemia meant her body had quit producing red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.  The end could come in one or more of several ways.

Of course, I suspended the divorce.  My attention at work as a senior manager of a bank operation center began to fade.  I didn’t want to be there.  I put on the strong front, but inside my body had stopped producing faith, care, and reasoning.

I found a girlfriend who treated me well.  Now it was my turn to sneak around, lie….and also to feel the burden of guilt and shame. I was learning to turn off any sort of conviction about sin through my friend Jack.  Jack Daniels.

My daughter bloated up from all the medications.  She was so sweet and seemed to be in good spirits.  I loved her so much!  But, I had no way of telling her for the lump and the choking tears that were sure to drown out any sensible comforting communication.  I had to be strong.  But, my strength was being tested almost every day with every thought.  I wanted these thoughts to go away, so I drank….and Jesus waited….

Death

One day at work, I told my secretary I was leaving for the day and I headed to a local watering hole that served excellent  Mexican food.  I met my girlfriend there and we began to drink Tequila.

The waitress came to me and asked,

“Are you Eddie?”

I said, “Yes.”

“You have a phone call up front.”

I had told my secretary where I was going (Cell phones were not common at that time).  So when I answered the phone I was expecting her voice on the other end.  But, it was my brother!

He said,

Eddie you need to come home.” (I was living with him at the time)

“Why?”

“Dad died in a car wreck this morning.”

The next thing I remember was crying uncontrollably at my table.  I had fainted and the people there in the restaurant lifted me back to my table and my food of sorrow laying cold in my plate.

My girlfriend took me out of the restaurant.  The tears continue to flow. She drove me to my brother’s apartment.  My brother and I started a long trip of two hours south to the city where my Dad lived…or had lived until that morning.  We arrived at the hospital and was taken to a dark hallway where we were asked to identify the lump under the bloody sheets.

They pulled back the sheets and my brother and I fell into each other’s arms crying like infants.

The next few days were filled with caskets, flowers, funeral homes and booze at night.  My brother, step-brothers, and sister stayed at my Dad’s house while we waited for the dreaded day of the funeral.

I was a controlled drunk the day of visitation and remember little except trying to keep my composure and not reveal that I had been drinking.  Attending were girl friends and the woman who bore my three beautiful children.  What a mess I was in! My mind was numb to everything!  But, I was sober the next day at the funeral and remember almost every second.

The funeral home director invited the family to come up and say our farewells before they closed the casket for eternity.  It was too much to handle.  My brother and I  walked up to the casket.  We again fell into each other’s arms weeping like we did at the hospital. Sobs that came from deep within.  Why was God doing this to me? Why did I not cry out, “I will not let go unless you bless me?”

I no longer called upon God.  Instead, I called upon my friends Jack  and Bud that night.  They gave comfort for a while, but they would wake me up in the early morning with a dry mouth, a massive headache, and clinging depression.

At some point during all this, I shook my fist at God and told him to “Go away!” I said, to my Creator…the One who I had worked with for the last 20 years.  I told Him,

“I asked for bread and you gave me a rock.  I asked for fish and you gave me a serpent”

Then I returned to my girlfriends and my friends Jack and Bud.  My sins became  easy…absent of guilt. I did not feel the presence of God or any conviction at all.  My life turned very selfish.  I was truly “dead in sin”…like a dead man laying on the floor that cannot hear, see, or feel.

_______________________________________________

Good News and Divorce

In the middle of all this, there was some very good news about my daughter.  She was starting to respond to some experimental drugs that was paid for out of my own pocket.  It was not covered by my insurance.  They were expensive.  Soon my bills were in the six figures.  That along with my newly initiated extravagant/selfish life style would lead to bankruptcy within a few years.

My divorce came through.  It was a terrible day.  My wife begged me to not divorce her and she cried all the way down the halls and steps of the court house….all the way to my car after the judge had pronounced the marriage over.  I could not breath because of the pressure of that day.  I was now an official confirmed jerk. My friends Jack and Bud were waiting for me.  The mental pain and depression were like a vice around my heart and head.

_________________________________________________________

For the next several years, I worked and made good money.  But at night, especially on the weekends, I was at the local bar laughing and partying with my new friends.  Money went through my fingers like water as I often picked up the tab or took my dates out to very expensive restaurants. I did all this and paid alimony and extra child support so my children would not have to move out of their home.  I gave the equity in the home and a new car to my ex-wife.

The distance between me, my children, and God grew wide like a great gulf of water.

Job Loss

One day at work, I was still feeling the effects of the drinking the night before.  I pulled up my email and began to read.  A gay employee of mine sent me an accusatory email.  He was at home that day.  I called him on the phone and went into a rant.  I called him names on his recorder.

This led to my resignation a few days later.  Now, I was without a job, This led to a major pity party that night and a week long trip to Arizona with my girlfriend.

Soon I was living with my girlfriend and getting wilder by the day.  Then came the day, I left my girl friend to live in my own apartment.  I didn’t want to feel tied down to one person.  And, in a way, I wanted to get my life back to normal, if possible.  My daughter moved in with me.  She had recovered from the Aplastic Anemia and was now in High School.  There were many people praying for her.  I never lifted up one word.  I am so thankful that when we don’t want to pray, there are others who will stand in the gap for us.

So here I was; divorced, separated from my children, a drinking problem, partying, missing my father, jobless.  I had tried talking to a psychiatrist.   He said, that he often saw people with only one or two major stresses in their life.  I had several.  He also noticed that my memory was not good and suggested it was the drinking.  Then he prescribed a mediation (Paxil)  to help me with my depression.  He instructed me to not take it while drinking.  Of course, that was never followed. The mixture of the drug and the drinking made me “ten foot tall and bullet proof.”  A few bar fights felt normal to me.  No fear,  just resolving an issue.  When I told the doctor about the scuffles, he immediately took me off the medication.

A New Wife

After the breakup with my girlfriend I decided to go to one of my favorite bars to hear a female saxophonist and a band play.  I had planned to celebrate the freedom from my girlfriend.  I was determined to sit and drink by myself.  I noticed an attractive lady who was turning away men who wanted to dance with her.  I turned and watched the music and decided to go easy on the drinking that night.  After several songs, the attractive lady was asking me to dance.  We danced and talked the rest of the night.   I thought to myself, “Why can’t I find someone like this to be my wife?”  But, she was married and going through a divorce and had three children.  When the night ended, I told her a few lies thinking I would never see her again even though I gave her my card.

A few days later, she called me at work (I had found a good job that paid more than any before).  As we talked and asked questions about each other, I soon discovered that I knew her husband from high school.  It both turned us off and we didn’t talk to each other by phone.  But, several weeks later I saw her at the grocery store.  She said she was going through the divorce, so I asked her out on a date.

We hit it off immediately and began to see each other regularly.  After her divorce, we took a trip to Cancun.  As we headed back after a week away, I felt I needed to slow down the relationship and wondered how I could stop it.

But, there was no turning back.  A year later, we were married.  None of my kids attended the simple wedding.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure it would be good for them.

Our marriage, especially in the beginning was all about travel, spending money and drinking.  The biggest problem with our relationship was the constant arguing.  My wife was extremely jealous and insecure.  Often I was accused of things even though I was completely faithful to her.  I knew what infidelity could do to a marriage and a family.  I wanted a normal life again!

A Small Turning Point.

Despite all this, we had some good moments.  But, one night we got into a huge argument and I left the house and sped through the neighborhood.  I had been drinking.  As I topped a hill, I passed a police car going in the opposite direction.  The blue lights came on immediately.  What happened next was my “one step towards God.”  It was the beginning of my journey back to God though I didn’t know it at the time.  It would be a small path to my “second resurrection” and a return to life after being dead in sins.  This event, along with another a few weeks later, begin to bring great conviction and led me back to church.  That story will be in part 3.

It is true that God never leaves us and that even though our sins as red as scarlet, He will turn them into blinding whiteness.

In part 3, I will show how God took me out of the pig pen and cleaned me up.  AA couldn’t do it.  Expensive doctors were worthless.  I will also tell you how God blessed me and how my relationship with God is stronger now than ever.

for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

Luke 15: 24

The conclusion next time.  Blessings until then.

______________________________________

A Clean Pig Returns to the Mud-Part 1

A personal testimony of the reality of God’s grace….in three parts…

But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”

2 Peter 2:22 

A Pig and His Mud

These words came to mind and knocked the wind of me.  How could I ever find my way back to God?  It had been 10 years of riotous living and discouragement.  Having read these verses before, I took a deep breath and indulged in my hopelessness:

“…for people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

2 Peter 2:19-22

Peter’s words described me perfectly.  Like knives they jumped off the page into my heart:

a slave being mastered…

escaped corruption by knowing Jesus…

entangled and overcome…

worse off at the end than at the beginning….

better to not have know the way of righteousness…

turned my back on the sacred command passed on to me.

a sow washed and going back to the mud and getting dirty again.

How had I gotten to this point in my earthly experience? This passage was clear.  It needed no interpretation from the Greek or some fanciful twisting of its words to make it say something else.

I had also heard the phrase or idea in another passage saying my situation was worse at the end than at the beginning:

And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.

Matthew 12: 45

The very words of Jesus Himself!  He talks about a house (a person’s life) that is swept clean of the evil, but 7 spirits more evil than the first one occupy the empty house (life).

That was me! I left God and had indulged in sin including alcohol, women, and poor judgment. I WAS more evil now than ever before in my life.  It was not always so. In this Part 1 I will describe my conversion from Atheism to a full-blown believer in Jesus.  In part 2, I will talk about my falling away and the hopelessness I felt, but how God cleaned up the pig yet one more time. Part 3 is my second conversion and the strength I gained from the experience.

_____________________________________________________

Divorce and a Grandmother’s Influence

My parents divorced when I was 6 years old and I remember crying many nights because I missed my dad.  Once, while looking at the big pictures in my grandmother’s Bible, I came across a photograph of dad between its pages.  He was with friends and had a big smile on his face.

Dad was like John Wayne to me.  Big and tough, but a very likable person.  When I saw the photo of him playing cards with friends, I began to feel the pain of being lonely for his presence in my life and the tears flowed freely.  My dear grandmother saw me with my head down and sobbing.  She gently took the old photo from me.  I never saw it again.

My Mom worked hard and even as a young boy I knew money must have been tight  because we moved in with my grandmother. When I started first grade, it was my grandmother who walked me to school and returned for me when school let out.  I slept in her bedroom on a little cot next to a unused fireplace.  She made my meals, gave me a bath, and talked to me about God.

My Mom was working hard making a living for her two boys.  I clung to her and my grandmother or mamaw, as we called her,…hoping they would never leave my brother and me like dad had done.

At night, mamaw knelt beside her bed and prayed for me.  It was her habit to say her prayers softly, but if anyone was close by  they could hear her in the quietness and darkness of bedtime.  As I lay there listening, I remember her prayers being like a conversation.  In my mind, I was sure that if I looked in her part of the room, I would see her and Jesus having a cup of tea and talking there on the floor. I could see Jesus sitting with His legs bent and arms around his knees looking at my grandmother.

She prayed for everyone in the family and saved my name for last…the oldest grandchild.  As she spoke my name, I could see it floating like vapor to the very throne room of God where His eyes and  attention would quickly shift to me.  It was a good and awesome feeling.  I felt secure.

Mamaw was my Sunday school teacher. She taught me about God in those early years. She based her feelings and practical living on the words of her beloved Bible.

We lived in a mixed neighborhood and my best friend next door was black.  I didn’t even think about his color until I heard someone else mention it.  I knew he was different, but different like bigger, older, and more smart.

Later as I became more aware of color and culture differences, I asked mamaw about a mixed couple I had seen.   “What does God think about a black person and a white person being married?” I asked.

Her response was very simple.  “Well, Moses married an Ethiopian.” Now, I didn’t know much about Moses or Ethiopians, but I knew by the way she answered that she was saying God was OK with it.

From that time on and to this day, I have viewed people….”yellow, black, and white” as “precious in his sight.”  People are good or bad, not based on their color, but by the choices they make and the influences in their life. None of us on planet earth made a decision about our birth place, our color, or our sex.  We all came into this world the same way, but we didn’t choose to be poor, rich, black, or white, or anything else that is unique to who we are. My grandmother taught me that all of us are built the same and have the same value in God’s eyes.

The God of my grandmother was approachable and understanding, but my mind and thoughts about God were soon to  change as I learned of the God  taught by an elder of the church.

________________________________________________________________

Childhood and Hell

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, my grandmother sent me to Vacation Bible School.  It was a wonderful time with songs, food, and Bible stories.  But, my favorite part of the day was craft time, where we made things.  I made a jewelry box for my sweet mother who I didn’t see often because she was always working or out on a date.

I carefully painted a cigar box an elegant color and after it dried I placed decals of butterflies on it and pasted shells on the top.  I just knew my Mom would love it and she did.  Our last day at VBS was Friday and that is when the parents would come visit us.  We would give them our creations.  I was excited.

But, early Friday morning, the teachers invited a church elder to talk with us about the Sunday service and how we would be part of it.  The man’s name was appropriately called Mr. Hale.

His stern demeanor made me nervous and afraid. He began to tell us about Jesus and what He had done for us.  He also mentioned that there would be a baptism  on Sunday for any of us who wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior.

All of this sounded good and I thought it would be good to be baptized so I could be saved.  It would please my grandmother.

Then Mr. Hale began to tell us what would happen to us if we were not baptized.

He said, when we died we would go to hell where our flesh would burn forever without stop.  He went on to describe how our blood would boil like hot water.  It was at this point that my mind went blank and I could not hear any more.  This was not the God who I heard my grandmother talk to every night.

That night, I told my grandmother,  I wanted to be baptized so I would not go to hell.  I thought she would smile and tell me how happy she was about my decision, but I saw a different expression of concern on her sweet face.

She told me I was too young to understand about sin and repentance.  Her words were often short and to the point, but very powerful and understandable.  So when Sunday came, I did not go forward when the altar call was made and I was not baptized because I trusted my grandmother and her God.

From the point Mr Hale describe hell to me, I began to be confused about God.  Over time, I viewed God as angry at me.  With arms crossed and looking down from heaven, I was certain he was waiting for me to make a big enough mistake so He could condemn me to an eternity in stinging, melting, suffocating flames and smoke. I imagined him keeping me alive so I could suffer more.

When I entered college, I took a freshman history class taught by a professor who was an Atheist.  He blended into the course of history the idea of how stupid people were to believe in a supreme being.  I was an easy target to accept these ideas because of my youth and suspicion about religion.  I knew little of the Bible and little of history to think otherwise.

Despite all this, there were times when I felt convicted about how I thought as an Atheist.  Sometimes, I would listen to Billy Graham on TV with the idea of making fun of him and Christians, but I would feel like crying for some reason.

Somewhere I knew that my little grandmother was praying there on her floor with Jesus.  To me, Jesus was a good character, but God the Father was an angry vindictive old man.

My experience in college with the professor and “higher education” left me an unbeliever.  While I was not a card-carrying militant Atheist, I was nevertheless a committed unbeliever and a seeker of pleasure and good times. It seemed logical that God was man’s creation used to both control and comfort people. Evolution made sense to me and Genesis did not.  We were just one big cosmic accident evolving into more complex life forms.  Life had little meaning or purpose to me.  My wish was to enjoy what I could, while I could.

_______________________________________________________________

Atheism and Life

I got married early.  I was only a few weeks from my 19th birthday.  I worked full-time and went to college at night.  For two years I endured this routine and finally burned out.

My wife and I moved to Los Angeles where I intended to pursue an acting career.  But, after a year of enjoying a different environment, we moved back home in the south and I went back to school and my routine.

My wife and I separated for a short time.  We were so young and didn’t have any direction in our lives.  I had no purpose except for athletics.  Basketball was my game and I began to run and bike to get in shape.  After a few weeks, it became obvious that I had a talent for running and cycling.

Over the next several years, I ran 8 marathons including two trips to Boston and the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington. It was fairly easy for me to keep up a sub-7 minute mile for 26.2 miles.

As I got stronger at cycling, my bikes became more expensive.  I raced often with the club or against myself through time trials to work.  I often ran to and from work as well.  I began to win races and was featured on the front page of the local newspaper for a 3-month competition of running at the YMCA.  I was also running to and from work at the bank every day…a round trip of 10 miles.  This was just a few months before I attempted a cross-country ride from Los Angeles to my home in the Southeast (Over 2,000 miles).

So I had found my niche in life and felt I could go faster and farther with the right diet and training.  All of this was the most important thing in my life.  More important than relationships including my wife and my family.

_______________________________________

Desert Encounter

It was on the desert between the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff that I began to use some logic about life and God. As I rode my bike in the cool of the summer morning and took in the magnificent view of the mountains in the distance, I was overcome with the beauty of the day, the strength in my legs, and the power of my lungs.  I began to connect the dots of life.

The logic seemed too simple.  Suppose, I had never seen a clock before and had not idea of its purpose. But, as I began to explore it closer, I could see that the wheels were precise and they moved the hands, which had numbers.  The movement of the hands across the  numbers corresponded to the length of a day.

 I could not dismiss the logic and the simple complexity of a clock. Then came the comparison of the clock to only one element of the human body i.e., the eye.  The human eye with its connection to the brain and the resulting actions was far more complex than a watch or clock.  This led me to conclude: the  simple clock must have a “clock maker.”  Someone with intelligence made it!  So, in turn, there must be a “human maker”….someone with intelligence who could make all the parts of the body work together.  To deny this was simply illogical.

 I said my first meaningful prayer as I cycled along the desert floor on that hot summer day.  “God, if you are out there, please reveal yourself to me.”

Later in the day, I peddled a loaded bike up the cool mountain and flew down the other side at over 50 mph.  My prayer was quickly forgotten.  But, only a few months later, God would show Himself to me in the most clear way possible.

__________________________________________________________

Making Fun of My Wife’s Beliefs

My trip was cut short by delays related to the sickness of one of the riders.  The dust storm in Two Guns Arizona was the final straw.  I was running out of time and felt like this whole trip was a waste of time. So I climbed off my bike and jumped in the van with one of the remaining riders that followed me each day and we drove back home….I was upset that I had quit, but I felt the pressure of getting back to work.

When I arrived back at my home, I discovered my wife was attending  evangelistic meetings which continued for several weeks.  This religious meeting was different from the tent meetings normally associated with such gatherings.  It was more like a big Bible study with a notebook.  The setting seemed to be more like a classroom than a church with all its emotion and loud preaching.

It sounded interesting, but I was a committed unbeliever and felt like my wife was being tricked by the teacher/preacher.  I made fun of her new-found faith and spiritual excitement.

My wife attended the meetings 5 nights a week.  I didn’t care if she went to them; it made no difference to me. I enjoyed being at home alone and watching TV or listening to my rock albums.  My life was all about getting in the best shape possible to compete and break records.  I wanted to live long. Exercise and diet was going to get me there!

But, God was about to answer my short desert prayer to reveal himself in an unusual way.  The prayers of my grandmother, mother, and wife were also soon to be answered in a powerful way.

One night, when my wife came home from the meetings, I continued to make fun of her.  She looked at me and said,

“If I am wrong, then take this material and tell me where I am not understanding.”

She handed me what appeared to be a notebook in question-and-answer format on different Bible topics; starting with the Jesus.  I told her,

“Sure! I will take look at it and let you know how stupid you are to believe this stuff. “

I was positive and confident I could dismantle the pastor’s material rather easily.

____________________________________________________________

Proving The Bible Wrong?

I was surprised to discover in the first study that Jesus was not just a new testament character.  He claimed to be in the Old Testament as well.

Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Luke 24: 25-27

This was new to me.  Also new was that Jesus and his disciples claimed  He was God and He existed from the beginning even before Abraham. He even claimed the name of God given to Moses at the burning bush i.e. I AM.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John 1:1-5

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

John 8:58

“Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”   Exodus 3:14

Everything I was reading began to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

But, when I started studying the prophecies about Jesus and the world starting in Daniel 2, I became more and more hungry to learn as much as I could about the Bible and Jesus.

 Daniel began to share his knowledge of a dream given to the king of Babylon. As he told the king of his dream and gave him the interpretation, my mind went back to the history I was taught from the atheistic professor.  Daniel described the four great powers that arose and were to arise in the ancient world before the events i.e., Babylon, Medio-Persia empire, Greece, and then Rome (the period in which Jesus lived.).  But then Daniel went further into the future in his description and described the 10 divisions of Rome and how they would never be united again.

But, it was his final words that really sent shivers up my spine:

And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.  As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. In as much as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”

Daniel 2:44-45

The “stone” (Jesus ) was going to come again in the “days of these kings”  the 10 divisions of Rome.  That is modern Europe!  Many, including Hitler,  have tried to reunite those divisions, even through inter-marriage of the kings and queens (mingling of seed), but God’s word has stood the test of time.

For the next several weeks, I was like a thirsty man on the desert who could not get enough to drink.  Everything I read was new to me and most satisfying.  I studied everything about Jesus, the state of the dead, heaven, and finally I hit on the topic that the elder of the church described in detail to my Vacation Bible School class when I was 8 years old.  HELL

The pastor/teacher made a good case for the penalty of sin being eternal death and not some place in the corner of the universe where people are living in sun-hot fire, being blistered by the heat and the skin melting away.  To be alive in hell, he reasoned,  meant that the great “merciful” Creator God had to continue  to supply the nutrients of life so the person can suffer more and more….desiring the sleep of death, but not finding it.  So man had changed the penalty of sin as being death to being eternal life….in flames!

I have written extensively about HELL.  Click here for more information:

Hell Part 1

Hell Part 2

Did Jesus Teach More About Hell Than Heaven?

No!  A God of mercy would supply mercy not unquenchable anger.  As I read about death and the fate of the lost, I could see a loving God….the God that my grandmother talked with every night. The destruction of sin and sinner in the last days was described as His strange act.  In fact, God took no pleasure in even the death of the wicked.

‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

Exodus 33:11

God was calling to me to turn from my wicked ways and not die forever.  He wanted me to be part of the first resurrection so clearly taught in the Bible:

Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power,

Revelation 20:6

 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18

___________________________________________________________________________

Inviting Him Into My Life

One weekend, I agreed to go to church with my wife.  This is the same church who had called in the evangelist/teacher.  I was impressed by the kindness and intelligence of the Bible class and the pastor’s sermon.

A few weeks later as I set in the pew, I felt the convicting power of God’s Spirit and I yielded to that familiar pull and tearful lump in my throat that I felt when I listened to Billy Graham years earlier.  Now the pull was a result of knowing what I knew and wanting others to know it too.

So, I had the second prayer of my life,

“Lord I invite you into my life. Please forgive me of my sins.  But, put me to work to help others know what I know.  I don’t want to be a pew warmer.”

Then peace came to my soul.  After the service, I told the pastor of my prayer and my desire to be baptized.  After Baptism, the Lord put me to work and the pew never got too warm.

I found myself involved in Prison Ministry,  the Billy Graham Crusade, Bible teaching, Sermons, and Radio Ministry (This blog site is named after the radio program presented by a friend and myself years ago i.e., Answers From Scripture)

For almost 20 years, I could not get enough of God’s word and  sharing it to all who would listen.  God had given me a gift to communicate what I read from the Bible into simple terms.  Many came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through the ministries the Lord gave me.  The Lord sent many people in my path who needed to know what I knew.

During this time, I was blessed with three beautiful children.  I wanted them to know Jesus, so I continued the tradition of praying and talking with Jesus on my knees like my grandmother.

Answer to Grandmother’s Prayer and Her Prophecy

My dear grandmother died from Parkinson’s disease a few months after my conversion.

Before she died, my wife and I went to her house one night to tell her that her prayers had been answered.  My desire was to tell her every detail, but her mind would come and go. I didn’t know when would be the right moment to tell her.

As I sat next to her on the floor, she rocked back and forth sewing an imaginary piece of cloth. My wife and my aunt talked and joked while I was praying about how to talk to my beloved prayer partner.

I put my arm on her shaking arm and the shaking stopped.  I took this as my opportunity to tell her of my experience, but could not find the words for the lump in my throat, so I made my words short, just like she would have done.

“Mamaw, I want you to know that I have decided to follow Jesus.  He is all that He has claimed to be.”

She looked at me and said some prophetical words.  “Eddie, don’t ever leave him.  He will sustain you.”  Somehow, she must have known there was danger and pain for me on the horizon, because I would indeed leave Him.  But, for now, we shared the joy and fruit of her many years of prayer.  I stood up, bent over and wrapped my arms around her as she sat.  We both began to weep which alarmed my aunt.

My wife calmed my aunt and told her I was telling Mamaw about my conversion.  We were left to cry together while my wife and aunt cried tears of joy too.

As we left the house and got in the car, the Lord gave me a quick vision or picture in my mind.  I saw Mamaw in a white robe sitting on a rock with Jesus standing beside her, also in a white robe.  His words brought comfort and immediate sobbing happy tears,  “Eddie, don’t worry about her. She is mine.”

Over the next several months, I was able to share more with her.  Her mind would come clear when we talked about Jesus and the Bible. She would quote verse after verse with me.  I told her about the second coming, the resurrection, and how Jesus taught about death being like a sleep. She said, “You know, that makes sense.”

Three months later on Christmas Eve, I sat with her in the hospital. She was dying and I was praying that God would let her sleep.  She fell asleep in Jesus while I was on my way home. These words came to my mind as I looked forward to seeing her again,

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

How I looked forward to that great reunion day when we all went to heaven at the same time!

___________________________________________________

The Enemy and Me

But, here is another Bible truth that God warned me about through my grandmother. There is an enemy to the soul.  His name is Satan.  There is also another enemy to us…It is our own carnal nature.

We are warned and encouraged throughout scripture to “put on the whole Armour of God”   We are told to watch and to pray.  Why?

“…because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

1 Peter 5:8

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12

It is the adversary that works hard especially on those who are active for him.  I was to be no different.  I once heard a man of God say that the enemy does not waste his time on those who are not active for God.  It is the ones who are following Christ sincerely and talking to others about Him that are the object of his wrath.

I would soon feel the wrath of both Satan and my own sinful nature. Many people do not understand that when someone receives Christ and is given the Spirit of God, the two natures (spiritual and carnal) exist together until we are changed when Christ returns.  Whichever of the two we feed the most daily becomes the one that grows the most.  Because many think that salvation is a one-time trip down the aisle of a church, many will fail Christ and move back to a lost state of following the flesh if they  choose to do so.  No one can pluck us out of  His hand, but we can choose to go back to our “wallowing in the mud.”

This was the verse I quoted at the start of this blog:

“…for people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

2 Peter 2:19-22

____________________________________________________

A Pig And His Mud…Again

In 1994 a series of events led me to shake my fist at God. That was my year of testing and I failed.  Like the prodigal son, I took my inheritance and left the Father.

My testimony is in three parts because my experience is in three parts.  You have just read how the Lord moved me from an unbeliever to an active tool in  His hand. I started by looking back from the end of my second experience. But, the second part is not about belief, it is about rebellion….and returning to the mud like a pig that was washed.

Next time, I will talk about how God saved me a second time.  Until then, stay close to the One who made you.  Grandmother was right.  He will never leave you. He is able to “save you to the uttermost.” But you CAN walk away and tell Him to go away. I did.  But, He won’t give up….only you can do that…

A Praying Woman is Powerful

My mom, younger brother, and I lived with my grandmother from the time I was 5 years old until I started the 5th grade at 10 years old.  As my two cousins will testify, “Mamaw” knew The Lord in a very special way.

My sweet Grandmother had a habit of kneeling beside the bed at night and praying to her Savior. She often prayed softly, but loud enough so that I heard my name being presented to the throne room of Heaven. There were times, I felt if I opened my eyes , I would see her and Jesus having a cup of tea while they talked.

Her prayers affect me to this day even though she died Christmas Eve 1976. This was only 4 months after my conversion from atheism to a follower of Christ. As she lay in the hospital bed, I asked The Lord to let her sleep so she would not be in pain and the confusion of Parkinson’s disease.  I got news of her death after I left the hospital and arrived at home where my wife and 2-month old daughter waited for me.

That exact prayer for God’s mercy would happen years later for my saintly mother, who died from a lung infection.  My prayer was, “Lord, let her sleep to escape the pain of death.”  The doctors asked the  family to say our good-byes.  When it came my turn, I trembled.  My mother had been praying for 10 years for my return to the Lord.  She often asked me when I was going to come back to the faith I once knew.  Lately, I had begun to feel that familiar pull of the Holy Spirit to repent of my sins and receive forgiveness.

 The Lord was knocking hard on the door of my heart. A lump the size of my fist was stuck in my throat as I approached this beautiful woman who also knew the Lord.  Here lay the woman who gave me life and was the sweetest non-obtrusive woman I had ever known. She was only moments away from the penalty passed upon all….death.  We would be separated, perhaps forever.

Years earlier, after my conversion, she and I had studied the Bible about the resurrection and the coming of Jesus.  It was in this study we saw the plan for those who die in Christ.  The clearest verse is found in 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18 (GW)

The Lord will come from heaven with a command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the dead who believed in Christ will come back to life.  Then, together with them, we who are still alive will be taken in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. In this way we will always be with the Lord.  So then, comfort each other with these words!

When I leaned in close to my Mom who seemed to be at peace, but under the influence of the drugs to help soften the sting of death, I said these words through wet tears dripping on her hand. I held her soft sweet hands close to my face.

 “Mom, I will see you resurrection morning.”

Immediately, I felt a squeeze of her hand! Twice! That tightening of her hand had strength despite the drugs and impending death.  It communicated the unspoken words, “You better be there.”

Like those who see their life pass before their eyes when they think they are about to die, I recounted my fall from grace.  My fall had been dramatic just like my conversion.  When converted, I was compelled to teach others about what I had learned.  I became a Bible teacher with a very large class.  I got involved in prison ministry and a world-wide magazine did a story on my ministry.  A Christian brother (Charlie) and I began a radio ministry called Answers from Scripture.  When Billy Graham came to town, I participated in training to become a counselor.  For several nights, I had the incredible experience of working next to Jesus and the Graham team to help people start their “Jesus Journey.”

I did things under the power of God I never dreamed likely or possible.

But, a series of events in 1994 had me shaking my fist at God.  I felt He had forsaken me and I turned back to the world and began to drink for the first time in my life.  I became an alcoholic after infidelity from my wife, a sick child with a rare disease, divorce, loosing my job, and the death of my father in a car wreck.

I was so low, that I could not feel God’s presence any longer, but He was there protecting me and hearing the prayers of these two powerful women in my life….not to mention many others in my church and my family.

This experience with my dying mother would only make louder that “still small voice.”  Later, that year, I would return like the prodigal son…dirty, broke, and doubtful.  That is a story unto itself.  My God had not forsaken me!  He  allowed me to waste my inheritance for the salvation of my soul.

My experience is now firmer than ever before….in Christ, but I know that the prayers of these two beautiful women interceded for me and prayed in my stead when I could not or would not do so.

(For my three-part conversion story, click here:)

A Clean Pig Returns to the Mud-Part 1

A Clean Pig Returns to the Mud-Part 2

A Pig Washed A Second Time-Conclusion

_______________________________________________________________

Last night (New Year’s eve 2015), I felt that same feeling of hearing my name being presented to The Lord. Just like I heard from my grandmother and my mother years before.

My beautiful wife of almost two years (Judy) has a tradition of praying at midnight each new year. (What a contrast to the parties and drinking that I once indulged.)  I tried to stay up till midnight, but we both feel asleep.

I was awaken by a soft touch on my arm and the sound of my beloved wife praying for me at midnight. She said The Lord woke her at 11:55 PM to pray.

There is nothing more powerful than a praying and believing woman! It was the women during Christ’s time on earth, that were closer and more loyal than the fearful men.  These women dared the enemy of man and his agents, by standing at the foot of the cross to comfort the dying Savior.  Except for John, the disciples had all fled.

I am blessed by the prayers of a Grandmother, Mother, and now my wife who encourages me along in my “Jesus Journey.” Also, those two female cousins I mentioned at the start, also pray for me!

Thank you, Judy, for carrying the prayer torch into another year and for praying for me…and my children.  May I come to know the Lord like the women in my life.

Yes, I am blessed by the women in my life.  But, I bet you are too!


“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous (woman) avails much.”

James 5:16