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Church...a place to belong

My Christian Testimony

Looking back over my life, I have to believe, according to the Scriptures and what the Holy Spirit has confirmed in my heart over and over again, that it was a setup from the beginning. In His providence He allowed me to experience many things in the school of hard knocks, some of which I could not have learned any other way. Because all things work together for good to those who love Him, He qualified me through them to become the man of God I am today. I don’t only know the Scriptures, but I also know the God who wrote them, my best Friend, and this has been true for about forty-four years.

I grew up in a home that was very influenced by my late father’s Victorian background and my mother’s difficult religious one. Both of them came from homes where there was very little interaction between the family members and a great divide that existed between children and adults. Children were to be seen and not heard. As a result, they knew little about the nuances of raising children and confronting and dealing with family issues in a loving, practical way. Nevertheless, they were good people who did their best to raise their four children. I will forever be grateful for them both.

I was the third of four boys, although, because of the many years that separated the second and third brothers, practically I grew up as the oldest of two; the first two had grown up and left home before I was halfway through elementary school.

My childhood was a nightmare without an end. For some reason I became an easy prey for the sexual fantasies of the adults in my life. I was too young to even know that I was being abused/raped. I grew up with a sneaking suspicion that this was normal and that everyone lived this way. This developed for me an overwhelming need of approval and fear of being rejected. (At some point in my young life I learned that the approval and acceptance I longed for came only one way.)

Then I entered an English all-boys school, and torment took on another face altogether. Cruelty and beatings and absolute fear became part of my daily life. At this point the sexual abuses became my only safe haven, and I couldn’t have escaped even if I had wanted to; they became a shelter in the midst of a storm. I began to believe that they were the only ones who really knew me or truly loved me. Sex became my anchor and the only way I knew to prove my love for someone. (Needless to say, I grew up tormented by those experiences and convinced that there was only one way to approval and acceptance.)

I know now that such people are called predators; society is far better equipped to deal with them, but back then things like that weren’t talked about, and I never told anyone of my pain and inner torment. I never saw myself as their victim. This only made matters worse—I blamed myself, and this rendered me even more silent, alone, and afraid.

Then I met Jesus. I was eighteen years old, and a friend I knew from school invited me to church. I heard that Jesus had died on the cross of Calvary to save me from my sins, that He had been tormented and beaten for my freedom. Thank God for that day in 1965 when I was born again. It changed me forever. At last I had found real, lasting acceptance and approval; I found forgiveness at someone else’s expense—Jesus Christ.
Only God Himself knew what that meant for this eighteen-year-old boy who was living with such a tormented and terrified soul. The freedom I experienced that day spun me like a top and set me in a direction of pursuing after God and His Word for the rest of my life. Everyone who got within a few feet of me heard about my Savior, and everyone who knew me thought I was in danger of going off the deep end. My parents were so concerned that they gave me an ultimatum: give up my newfound faith in Jesus Christ or move out. I moved out, they relented, I moved back. My Christian experience, though sorely tested, was growing ever stronger.

Nevertheless, nothing had prepared me for the realization that though I was a born-again Christian, in love with God and seeking to serve Him, I still had most of the same inner conflicts and problems hanging on to me. I couldn’t shake them! If this wasn’t enough, I soon found out that everyone in our church acted as though they were without any lingering issues—and once again I found myself isolated and unable to openly deal with the demons in my basement. I learned that though the people at my church were sincere, they had no answers for a boy with my problems and past. They knew only one way to deal with such things: mock them and throw them out of the church, treating them like lepers.

There was a silver lining in all of this. I knew in my heart that God had my answers, and I made up my mind to search them out for myself—very privately. Doing so has taken me a lifetime. I read books, secular and sacred, on the subject, and they all left me empty without answers. In fact most of them didn’t believe there were any lasting solutions to my problems.

After being saved for two years, in 1967 I had a life-changing experience with God. As a result I got down on my knees and asked Him for the wisdom of Solomon to know how to live for God and gain an understanding of the human experience that was so far beyond me. Little did I know that He would do this one step at a time for more than forty years.

Many times I was tempted to throw up my hands in despair of ever finding my way, but each time God reminded me that my answers and the answers others so desperately needed were in His Word. He assured me that He was leading me to them. I believed that He was faithful and my freedom was coming. Often, looking back made more sense than looking forward; nevertheless, I pressed on by faith and refused to let my integrity go.

God has exalted His Word above His name, and His Word assured me that He would never leave me nor forsake me. I knew I couldn’t quit and that God was indeed my best Friend. I knew He was for me, that He was mighty in strength of understanding, that He understood me and all that I faced every day. He has proven His love for me on the cross of Calvary, and the power of that love has only become more and more real to me every day that I walk with Him.

My Bible is my closest companion, and my church relationships my most important divine connections for more than forty years. How has God answered my prayers and brought me to total healing? Amazingly, line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. It took all of the last forty years or so, and daily learning experiences that gradually opened my eyes to the power of God and His Word, to totally set me free.

Lorraine and I have been married for 38 years, and today we are more qualified than most to point the way for others to find true wholeness in God. He has raised us up to meet the needs of a hurting, end-time generation within the safety and protection of the churches of Jesus Christ. We have real-life answers that work.

What are these answers? God taught me through five learning cycles over the years. As I was living through them, I was teaching them to all who would hear.

This began in 1971. He took the next seven years to teach me the importance and power of the local New Testament church, the vital truth of anchoring my Christian experience in the local church, and that He intended the church to be a place of refuge, training, preparation, instruction from His Word, and a place to fellowship and belong to the divine connections He established for me with other believers. God designed His church to be a little taste of heaven on earth, a place where God could meet with His own children in a corporate setting, where those coming could mingle their faith in Him together and see the power of it open doors for mighty and glorious manifestations of God’s power and love.

It was within the context of His church that He began His healing process in my life, but first He had to anchor me with the truth of where I belonged, no matter what happened in my life. Through these divine relationships He had proven through the test of time that I had experienced the love of Christ. I learned that church wasn’t something we attend, but rather it was a community of believers who have been made a part of one another through the Holy Spirit, as church members who grow up together with a common bond.

= I was home at last.

Beginning in 1978, after a terrible church split that was mostly my fault, God began to teach me about His grace. I was well acquainted with my chosen denomination’s definition of grace (“do or die”), but I had yet to come face-to-face with the power of “My grace is sufficient, for My grace is made perfect in weakness,” His great grace for my failures. This was a new concept, and my life and His power took on a whole new meaning. Our entire church went through the process of getting a grip on the grace of God for some years to come. At this point we broke through the denominational boundaries that had tied us to the “do-or-die” mentality—it is false, it is not God’s way. His way is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. We overreacted at times and underreacted at times. Nevertheless, I learned that His grace is sufficient, it is there for me, there is space—grace space—to come to terms with taking charge of my life, to be able by His strength to get a grip on things. I learned that there is enough grace through Jesus Christ my Lord to come to great repentance and not only be responsible for my actions, but to see all that God is able to do in a man’s life as a result of those same actions, for good to the glory of God. Grace is an ongoing experience.

= My Spiritual Strength

Beginning in 1985 God introduced me to the power of the Holy Spirit and His role in the believer’s life in a fresh and powerful way. This revolutionized me. This revolutionized my whole church, one by one, as we opened our hearts to the truth of the fullness of the Holy Spirit coming upon the believer in power and glory, with miracles and signs following—there was no going back. Truly, as a church we became Spirit-filled believers. During this time, my church and I had nothing short of a spiritual explosion. God had entered my life in a whole new dimension, one I was totally unaware of until this point in God’s leadership. I knew in my heart that there had to be more to my Christian experience than the rules and regulations of Christianity. Thank God the Comforter has come. He brought dynamic power into our church, and we went through a time of spiritual renewal and refreshment, moving from powerful, fleshly enthusiasm for God to the power of the Holy Spirit working in us and through us to get the job done.

Through it all, my desire to know Him and the freedom that I knew only He could bring to me was leading me onward. Today the Holy Spirit is my best Friend, my closest Confidant and the One who fills my days with joy and laughter. I lean on Him for everything. Partnering with God took on a brand new meaning through my relationship to Him—truly Jesus led me all the way through His Spirit.

= My Best Friend

Beginning in 1992 I was introduced to the power of the name of Jesus to deliver me from spiritual powers greater than my ability to resist them. Resist them I did, failed I did, overpower me time and again they did. Then God began to open my eyes to Jesus Christ the Deliverer. He came to set the captives free. Until this point I had no practical context in my life for all the scriptural references to Jesus Christ casting out devils and breaking the chains of those in bondage. The Scriptures came alive for me in the area of deliverance. This was a whole new understanding of His power to set me free.

No matter how hard I tried, there were things I just couldn’t shake off. They were bound to me, and I was bound to them. I learned about family iniquities, curses that flow through generations, bondages that don’t just go away, demons that have every right to torment because of my actions or the actions of others. I learned that in Jesus Christ’s mighty name I could break their power over my life and see iniquities forgiven, curses broken, bondages destroyed, and demons cast out forever.

My own need for freedom, my people’s need for freedom, had brought us to our knees; God heard our prayers and sent us His deliverer. Without deliverance no one can get ahead and stay there. Layer by layer, God peeled off my problems and the powers that held them fast. I was free at last, free to make my own choices, free to run and not grow weary, free to believe that when the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. The myth that I had embraced for years, that I was forever stuck with my problems, was proven wrong—this more than anything set me free. Thank God for His deliverance ministry.

= Free at Last

Beginning in 1999, God began teaching me about His love in earnest. He knew that without love, all the rest would have little meaning. Without love, there can be no real healing or the washing away of the scars. God is love, and to truly know God we must know by experience His wondrous love. “Loving me where I am” takes you by the hand, fills your heart, and walks the miles with you all the way to your journey’s end. Love is not put off by your difficulties, your trials, your pitfalls along the way. Love remains faithful to you through it all. Love never fails, and His love gave me the courage to believe. His Word is true, and His Word is my strength and power. To have faith we must be full of it, and faith can only work by love. I have learned that God is true and every man a liar, the point being, God is true. Because of the love of God, I have walked away from my haunting and taunting past. Because of the love of God I can face my future boldly. Because of the love of God I will not live the rest of my life hanging my head in shame. Because of the love of God I no longer stand in condemnation of myself or others. Because of the love of God I will no longer do despite to the grace of God. There is room at the cross, no matter who or what you are. God is love, and He is your answer, just as He is mine. His love was the capstone to my healing process. It healed me from within and birthed in me a whole new life ethic—live by love alone. Nothing can stop me now, for I know that God is working in me both to will and to do of His own good pleasure. He shall complete what He has begun, His love is beyond our understanding, and I will for the rest of my life be learning the length, depth, height, and breadth of it—thank God. It is big enough to embrace us all.

= Whole at Last

Six Life Lessons I Learned About the Journey

  • Sincere people sometimes have serious problems that could be mistaken for insincerity—regard no one after the flesh.
  • Regardless of your problems, God has the answers and will ever remain faithful to you—lay hold of that for which God has laid hold of you.
  • Your healing is fifty percent up to God and fifty percent up to you—no one gets a free ride. Christians have the power to choose their way out. No temptation has taken you but such as is common to man….
  • There are those who will hold you hostage to your past, no matter how far you’ve come, and if it were up to them, never allow you to forget it. The devil, and not God, is the accuser of the brethren. Everyone has things to forget and things to remember. God is mighty in strength of understanding, despising no one.
  • Enjoy the journey—God’s grace is sufficient, and His love is big enough. Mix with hope-filled people of faith in your church. Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ.
  • No one has to see themselves as a victim beholden to others, bound to live the rest of their lives in sin—you can be healed, and you can normalize. He came to set the captives free.

In Conclusion
Thus God has revealed to me the value of church life. Without it, the Christian message has no context—it will not work. Furthermore, He taught me that to reign in life we must do so by His grace. Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound, and those who have received the abundance of grace and the gift of Christ’s righteousness are set up to reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. To Him be all the glory. He filled me to overflowing with the power of His Holy Spirit to take me beyond myself to the heights of His abilities flowing through me instead. There are no limits to His power. He released me from the prison of the dark, demonic spirit world where death reigns, to the glorious light of His freedom and a peace that passes my understanding. His power working in me is greater than he that is working in the world. There is no greater force on earth than the mighty name of Jesus. He revealed His love to me; I will never be the same. Though I may cry out with Paul that I am less than the least of all His saints, this grace was given that I should preach the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ, my Lord and my Savior. Truly nothing can separate me from the love of Jesus Christ my Lord.
I have come full circle. My healing is complete. Am I perfect? No, but my Savior is. Are all the bad memories gone? Afraid not, but He has promised to destroy even those. Will there be no more days of torment? Sadly, no—fear brings torment, but perfect love casts out fear.

What it does mean is that I am free to believe in Christ my Savior and my Lord. Free to mount up with wings as an eagle, free to run and not grow weary, free to find my rest in God, to dwell in the secret place of the Almighty and abide under the shadow of His wing.

God has qualified me throughout this forty-four year journey to know Him and the power of His Word. In His Word I have found real answers that work, and I am qualified by His grace to teach and preach them to a hurting, disillusioned world. Today the world has no answers for the sincere who want to be free, and I am sorry to say the same for many of our churches. But God has the answers. They are real. I know. I have lived through it to tell others about it. It took every moment of every day for forty-four years for God to get me where I am today. By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me is not in vain. Together we will get this job done. His churches shall rise, and the world will see once again Jesus Christ, the One who came to save them from their sins and give them the real freedom that they are longing for in this life and for eternity.

My advice for you is to find a good, Bible-based church that understands these things and will embrace you and love you all the way back to wholeness so you can pass your answers on to others. Thank God for real churches where we can secure divine connections that won’t fail you when you fail them or yourself. I believe in the power of the God life, and so should you.

To our church family in Concordville, where we grew up and made lifetime friends who were willing to pay the price of raising up a man of God and his message. Those were the happiest thirty-three years of our lives; your reward awaits you in heaven.

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My Christian Testimony

Looking back over my life, I have to believe, according to the Scriptures and what the Holy Spirit has confirmed in my heart over and over again, that it was a setup from the beginning...




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