Sheila Culver

           

           

AMAZING GRACE

Personal Testimony of Sheila (Gibson) Culver

I was raised up in church all my life.  I went to Calvary Baptist Church in Arkansas where Bro. Charles Shipman was Pastor.  I considered myself a good kid, because I was always in church.  My parents made sure we were in church.  We were taught right from wrong. 

          I guess I was about 14 years old when God first started dealing with me.  I thought at that time God had saved me.  I did not realize that He hadn’t until I was older.  When I turned 18, my life fell apart.  In my mind I was grown, and no one was going to tell me what to do.  I didn’t like rules, so I moved out of my parents’ home.  I thought once I was on my own things would be better.  I thought I was missing out on a lot of things of the world, and  I made some bad decisions. 

At the time I thought I was having fun and not thinking about the consequences of my sin. I messed up and jumped into a marriage, got pregnant, and then left shortly after.  I went back home, because I wanted to go through the pregnancy with my Mom.  I started going back to church at Calvary.  I felt that I was where I was supposed to be. Then in February of 1998, I thought I got saved again, and it was great for a while. 

My daughter, Abbie, was born in April, and I was determined to raise her in church and around the things of God.  Things were going good for awhile and then I went back to my old ways and wanted to do my own thing again.  I started doing things a saved person wasn’t suppose to do.  I would go to bars and drink thinking things were good.  That’s when I met James (my husband now).   I continued to live a life of sin.  We went out for a while and then decided we would live together instead of getting married.  I was afraid of marriage, having already had one that failed, plus he was a lot older than me.  I wanted to make sure that it would work between us before I took such a serious step as marriage.   I knew I was doing wrong, but I didn’t care.  I was thinking only of myself.  I was trying to make myself happy. 

I remember going to Bro. Claude Mills’ church a few times, but I couldn’t make myself keep going.  I knew I was lost.  I knew if I didn’t do something, I was going to hell, but that still didn’t make me want to go.

James and I had a lot of problems, so I moved back to Arkansas instead of dealing with my problems.  I decided we were not living together anymore.  We were either going to get married or we were through.  I was tired of living like that, and I wanted to make it right.  We got married in 2001, and I moved back to Mississippi.  We still had the same problems - nothing changed. I moved back to Arkansas in 2003, because I thought I couldn’t take anymore. 

During that time, my Mom found out she had cancer.  That was devastating news!  Nine months later, she was gone, and I didn’t know what to do.  Things were so hard; my life was crazy.   My Mom always knew how to pick up the pieces and make me feel better, and now she was gone.  I was so upset.  I hated and blamed God for taking her.  I couldn’t understand why he would do that to me.  I needed her and I felt so alone.  I couldn’t get along with anybody.  I was just miserable. 

I decided I needed to get away from Arkansas, so I went back to James.  I couldn’t live in Arkansas anymore.  I was determined I was going to make my marriage work.  I loved him, and our marriage had to be fixed.  I was tired of running.  Things were going good, but I was still in a lot of pain, and I still blamed God.  I knew I needed to be in church, but I didn’t want anything from God.  I had a lot of issues.  I also knew if I started going to church I would have to change my life and I didn’t want to.  I would try going to churches around my house, but I got nothing.  I knew where I was supposed to be, but I kept using the excuse that James wouldn’t go so I wasn’t going either. 

Around August or September of 2008, out of the blue James suggested we go to Bro. Claude’s church.  I agreed I would go with him.  This time when we went I looked at things differently.  I saw what God was doing among that group of people.  Tia and Jeremy Hall were expecting little Abbey Grace. In the womb, she had serious medical problems diagnosed and it was uncertain if she would even make it to term.  I needed to stay and see God’s work accomplished in her.   I knew then I had to quit blaming God for taking my Mom.  I had to quit hating Him and realize He didn’t take her to hurt me.  He was doing a miracle right in front of me with Abbey Grace. 

We started going regularly. The more I saw the more I wanted.  I was hoping it was not too late.  He used the miracle of Abbey Grace to keep me coming.  She was born absolutely perfect.  I started doing whatever it took to get saved.  I couldn’t understand why it was so hard.  I went and talked to Bro. Claude, and he kept telling me I was trying to save myself.  He said I needed to just do what God wants me to do like being the wife and mother I’m supposed to be and leave the rest up to God.  I started doing that.  Then Bro. Claude said “I” was what was standing in the way.  I didn’t want to give myself up to God, and I loved myself more than God.  I thought he was crazy. 

On December 28, 2008, Bro. Claude was preaching on the gifts that God gives us.  That night he brought beautifully wrapped gifts for each one of the lost to open up.  Each gift contained a special verse from the Bible.  As each box was opened and the verse read, God would stir my heart.  The one that I opened is the one that really got to me.  It said, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God...” (Eph. 2:8).   When I read that verse, I knew God gave me that one for a reason. 

When I got home, I put the verse on the table next to my bed so I could see it.  I kept looking at it and started thinking “all this time I’ve been trying to save myself.”  I couldn’t go to sleep, so I went to the bath tub.  That is where I go to  relax.  Well, God was there.  God showed me the real reason of why He came on this earth, and why He died on the cross.  It was so weird, because I had never seen it like that before.  I knew the story in my head, but when I saw it through my heart, it was like I was actually there.  I started crying and praying.  Then God started showing me myself, and I couldn’t believe that was me.  Everything Bro. Claude had told me, God was showing me, too.  I was so ashamed and embarrassed.  I couldn’t understand why God would love somebody like me.  I told God if He wanted me, He could have me, but I didn’t know why He would.  I told God there was nothing I could do; He had to do the rest.  I shut up and didn’t do anything.  The next thing I knew the words, “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, I once was lost but now I’m found” came across my heart.  All I could do was sit there.  I didn’t know really what happened.   I was thinking surely it wasn’t this easy.  All I had to do was “nothing.”  

It was around 12 o’clock at night, but I had to talk to Bro. Claude.  I called him and woke him up.  He was half asleep, but he said it sounded good and we would just have to sit back and see what happens.  I wanted him to say more than that. 

I couldn’t go to sleep.  I wanted to run around the house shouting, but everybody else was in bed asleep.  I kept thinking this is too good to be true, and it was so easy.  All I had to do was shut up and listen.  I had decided I wasn’t going to tell anybody just in case it didn’t really happen.  Wednesday night I asked Bro. Claude if we could sing, “Amazing Grace.”  He had Tia sing, “Amazing Grace, My Chains are Gone.”  I never heard that song before, and it really stirred me up.  I almost exploded, but I still wasn’t ready for anyone else to know.  I was afraid things would change if I said it out loud. 

Sunday came and Bro. Claude had everybody tell what they had gotten out of church that year.  I had memorized what I was going to say.  I was not going to say anything about getting saved.  When it came to my turn, God took over and I told everyone everything.  I was shocked and excited.  I realized there was a big difference in what happened to me this time than what had happened in the past. I went by feeling before, and this time it was all about Christ and what He did for me.  I had always imagined getting saved at church not in a bath tub.  Everything that happened was nothing like I had imagined it would be.    I know God knew that’s the way it had to be for me. 

Now that I’ve been saved, I can sit back and look at all the changes in my life.  The drinking and partying are gone.  I don’t even think about doing them anymore.  I stopped smoking.  I don’t hang around the people I used to anymore.  God has changed my life in so many ways.  God has been showing me a lot of things.  He has brought a lot of preachers in my life through the years to get me to the place where I am today.  He constantly reminds me where He brought me from, and I am so thankful that He never gave up on me.  He has given me a wonderful church and wonderful friends that I love very much.  I am so excited to see what else God has planned for my life.    

Jim Knighton

           

           

Save me and I shall be saved

  My whole life I was taught to love God, church, men of God everything to do with it. I was either playing basketball or going to church. Even though I was going to church I don’t ever remember a lot about church or feeling God move on me. I was probaly 12 or 13 when we had youth revival, and at the time we had a lot of youth. One night several youth came down and said they got saved, after the service preacher asked me why I hadn’t went down I told him I didn’t feel anything. He started asking me if I wanted to be saved, was I not sorry for my sins the next thing I knew I was crying. Preacher told me if I was sorry for my sins I was saved so that was my first confession. Nothing really changed next 3 or 4 years.

  When I was 16 I got a job at Shoney’s restaurant, it was the first time I got out into what you call the real world. I got to hanging out with wrong crowd I tried drinking but just didn’t like it, tried drugs same thing just didn’t like them. I still hung around that crowd and church wasn’t that big deal. I still went but was just there. By my senior year I had quit basketball and working at Shoney’s was my life. At the same time I met Donna and we dated off and on.

  After I graduated from high school in 1982 shoney’s asked if I wanted to be a manager. I moved to Clarksdale was asst. manager. In Feburary 1983 Donna and I got married. I was promoted to executive manager. I should have been happy but I was home sick, Clarksdale is not myrtle so in 85 they transferred me back to new Albany. I lived down there for three years and the only time I ever went to church was the night I got married. If you had asked me I would have told you I was saved. Shoney’s was closing stores and I was getting tired of all the hours so I quit and went to work at futorian in shipping. Now that I was back home I still wasn’t back in church. To be honest had no desire for church but Donna wanted to go and matt was born I knew I was supposed to take him. We started going to Temple Baptist that’s where my dad and mom were going. We went for while everything was going good. We went to church and work. Richard Johnson was preacher and he started preaching on lost church members it shocked me. I didn’t know there were lost church members, I just thought they were backsliding. It shook me up but I didn’t tell anyone I just told Donna I would like to start going to new oak grove that’s the church I was raised in. We started going there and the preacher there preached stuff that didn’t bother me or convict me. As time went on he left and we got Bro. Charles Smith he was young and loud going to seminary. He came in preaching about lost church members. Here I was again but in my mind I had no where else to go. I went to him one wensday night after service and told him I was lost. We went to one of the back rooms and he said if I wanted to be saved I would have to pray to God and ask him to save me. I got in floor and started praying asking God to save me. He ask me what I was feeling I told him nothing he said if I meant it God would save me. I started crying and then it seemed like I got peace. He said I was saved. After that it did seem I had a desire for God and the church that I had never had before. Seemed like things were going good, church was growing we had visitation, workdays I was enjoying church. After I had been saved year the church voted me deacon, taught Sunday school men, RA leader my life revolved round the church. Then Bro. Charles left for another church. It hurt I just couldn’t understand why we couldn’t keep preacher.

  Bro. Claude came and right away I could tell something was different he cried when he preached and you could tell he was sincere. He started preaching about what are you passing on to the next generation. It sounded good then he preached about tradition of men rendering the word of God to no effect. He also preached about examine yourself whether you be in the faith. People started leaving the church thought Bro. Claude was trying to run everything, but everything he preached was right in the word. I often wonder why I didn’t leave all I can tell you was it was the grace of God because I had run before. As time went on people started getting saved people that I thought was already saved. Bro. Claude started bring in other preachers Bro. Tim preached on getting things in you’re life out so God could work. Bro. Greg preached about tearing out the old, these are just some of the sermons God used to show me where I was at but at this time I still considered myself saved. Bro. Sandy and I worked together and one day at break he was talking about how God had showed him how deceitful his heart was and how he had lied to himself about his salvation. I can tell you that is the strongest I had ever felt God move it was like God was talking to me not Sandy and even though he was talking about himself it burned in my heart the truth about me. All this time Bro. Claude had been preaching about examine yourselves and I thought I had but God showed me I had just been looking at it lightly not really digging in to my salvation experience. But prideful as I was I tried to hang on to what I had. At this time we were meeting in the youth building while we remodeled the church. Bro. Terry came and preached a revival in October 2004. When we built our church we put these big pillars in the front and Bro. Terry came and he preached on being a pillar in the church and it was good but then he said their was some here that think you’re a pillar and you’re not. When he said that it was like God sat on me and told me that was me. It was the strongest I had ever felt God moved on me. Before I could always get the conviction to go away but this time I couldn’t  get away. I knew there was no denying it anymore I was lost. I will never forget thinking of how I could tell Bro. Claude I just knew he was gonna be disappointed in me. I had been with him for 11 years. I just knew he was going to be upset. The next mens prayer meeting after the revival I went in and I told Bro. Claude I was lost and when I was expecting disappointment he just started smiling. You may not believe this but I was releaved to know where I really was for the first time in my life I really knew where I stood with God. I wish I could tell you I got saved right there but it didn’t happen. The next three or four months I tried to figure out how I was gonna be saved. I remember laying in bed thinking of different ways I would be saved. I tried reading more praying more nothing. Bro. Claude asked me in mens prayer meeting one night what was going on and I told him things I was doing and reading and he told me I was working and as long as I was working God wouldn’t save me. Over the next few weeks it seemed he told me that a lot I just couldn’t see it. I had gotten to a place in my life where it seemed my life was turned upside down me and Donna were having trouble. I always prided my self in having everything together but it seemed it was all slipping away. God was showing me how my whole life I had depended on me, I had never depended on him for anything. I didn’t realize how much my pride was in control. My biggest thing was I couldn’t believe God would save me. There was services God was moving but I said if I went down he wouldn’t save me. In may2005 lighthouse had there birthday celebration and I drove up there with Bro. Claude and Becky and Bro. Brian Purdy got up and was giving his testimony and how he was saved and as he was talking he quoted a verse Jeremiah 17:14 Heal me, O Lord,  and I shall be healed save me and I shall be saved for thou art my praise. That phrase save me and I shall be saved just kept running in my head, I couldn’t tell you anything else about the night. The next morning as we were going back I couldn’t find that verse I had looked for it but just couldn’t find it. Becky found it and I just couldn’t get it off my mind all day that Saturday. Sunday morning came and Bro. Claude went around the church asking what we got out of the birthday celebration. As people went around telling what they got out of it I was thinking about telling them about the verse God had given me. When it came my turn God told me to go to the pulpit and read the verse, in my mind I was gonna read it tell them God helped me this weekend but as soon as I got up and started reading the verse God moved on me and when I read save me and I shall be saved it was like my eyes were opened and I really believed God would save me. I fell down behind the pulpit and told him I was sorry for not believing him. It was like I was in another place I had no idea what was going on around me just that I believed. The next thing I know is the church is singing it is well with my soul. The church was singing it but God was telling me.

Rachel (Rutherford) Gibson

           

           

RESTING IN MY SAVIOUR

Personal Testimony of Rachel (Rutherford) Gibson

The earliest memory I have is of being in church. My parents are Bro. Tim and Carol Rutherford.  They were both saved before I was born.  My dad was called to preach and later to be an evangelist.  In July of 1986, they sold everything we had and went on the road with dad as he started his ministry.  I was just two years old.  As I grew up, I remember times that I was touched and at times moved to tears but didn’t understand what was happening or why. 

          I had bad back problems growing up.  Finally, when I was 13, we were told I had scoliosis.  For those who don’t know what that is, scoliosis is an irregular curve in the spine.  I didn’t know then that 7 years later God would use my attitude towards the scoliosis as a major key point in my salvation.

          I entered a treatment program that required a change in my diet and life routine.  These changes made it impossible for our family to travel together.   Dad moved the family to a small town in Florida, which was close to my doctor, so I could have the treatments I needed.  Then Dad continued to travel on in evangelism, while Mom and we kids stayed in Florida.  I went through the treatment for nearly two years.  Since my back was continuing to curve and I wasn’t improving, the doctor dropped me from his program.  This allowed our family to all be back together again.  We went back on the road with my Dad in October of 1999. I saw a chiropractor off and on when I could, so the treatment was sporadic.  During this time, my oldest sister Denise married Steven Bach, and they remained in Florida. 

          In April of 2001, a friend of mine was killed in a vehicle accident.  He was only 16 and full of life.  I was very bothered by his death. For the first time, I was aware that my life was out of my control.  I always thought I would get saved when I was older, but when Jeremiah died, I realized that I may not have that long.  It may seem strange to some that read this how I had been raised in church and under the preaching of the truth but did not know that I had no promise of tomorrow.  I had heard the verse, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”, but until God opened my spiritual eyes to the understanding of it, I was completely oblivious.  I knew at that moment that I was accountable.  I knew the difference between good and evil and not just right and wrong. 

          A few weeks later, dad was preaching at Bro. Edgar Paschall’s in Kentucky.   There was another preacher there, Bro. Mike Bagwell, whom I had never heard preach before.  The only thing I remember about his message was him saying something about “trampling on the blood of Christ.”   He also preached about the Son pleading my case, even after I had trampled on Him.  His words made me feel like a dog.  I wanted to crawl under the pew and hide.  God told me then it was time to quit playing games and seek Him. 

A year or so later, we went to camp meeting in Pontotoc, Mississippi – Festival of Joy Cupbearers to the King.  I don’t recall who preached or what was said, but I felt God dealing with me.  I went to the altar crying but didn’t really know why.  My dad came down and asked what was going on.  I told him God was dealing with me.  He asked in what area, but I really didn’t know that either.  He left, and I didn’t know what to do, but he came back with Bro. Terry Owen to help me.  Bro. Terry asked me a few questions and then he asked if I had ever told God I loved him.  I told him that I hadn’t.   He told me to tell God that I loved Him.  I tried, but nothing would come out.  I couldn’t say the words, “I love you “to God, because I knew I didn’t.  At the same time, I didn’t want to admit how I felt to Bro. Terry.  Bro. Terry asked me if I had told God.   I said, “No.”  He then asked, “Why?”  I told him, “Because I don’t.”  He wanted to know why, but I really didn’t want to tell him the reason.  I finally told him I didn’t love God, because I hated Him (God).  Bro. Terry wouldn’t leave that alone either.  He had to know why.  I told him I hated God because of my back; I felt God had cursed me and didn’t love me.  Bro. Terry and my Dad looked at each other and said they thought that had been my problem all along.  I almost felt relieved to have finally admitted that I, Rachel Rutherford, was a God hater.  I knew that was a terrible thing, but at the same time I didn’t see myself all that bad

          Time passed.  I graduated from high school and decided to attend Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi.  In order to go to college, it meant that I would have to move away from my family.  I talked with my parents and Bro. Claude and Becky Mills about living with them.  They all agreed, so I moved to Myrtle, Mississippi and lived with the Mills family.  I stayed with them from February through May that year. 

While living in Myrtle with the Mills, I had been seeing a chiropractor in Memphis.  One particular day I saw him, and he gave me bad news.  He had taken x-rays and measured the curvature of my spine.  He came into the room and told me my back was very critical, and I needed to have surgery within the next year.  My spine was at a 100 degree curve.   This prompted my move to Memphis, Tennessee and is really what started into motion the events surrounding my salvation. 

I lived with a family from the church I was attending there.  I got a good job with insurance benefits, but when my benefits went into effect, I still had no doctor to perform the surgery.  While we prayed for guidance to find the right doctor, my sister Michelle moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  She got a job at a rehabilitation clinic.  In the meantime, I was still lost and had not gotten saved.

Bro. Mike Williams called me around this time.  I believe it was around two years after I realized I was lost.  It took 3 years for God to finish His work.  Bro. Mike said God had put it on his heart to remind me of a song I had been singing for years, “Let the Blood of Calvary Speak for Me.”  What he wanted me to know was that “there’s no work that I’ve accomplished” and no goodness in me for God to save me.  It was completely on the merits of His Son and only for His glory.    

While Bro. Greg Moffitt was my pastor, I had talked to him about some things going on in me.  Bro. Greg told me that I hadn’t been thankful for all the goodness God had put in my life.  One night I was out with some friends from church.   On my way home, I barely escaped a car accident.  It shook me up.  But what really got my attention even more, was when God told me I was driving my life the same destructive way.  It’s amazing the way God can use everyday circumstances to get your attention but even more amazing is that it would take a little longer before I finally realized what God was really saying to me. 

Dad came to Lighthouse Baptist Church, where Bro. Greg Moffitt was Pastor, to preach a week of meetings.  One of the nights, Dad preached out of Isaiah.  The particular verse he dealt with was, “He shall not fail, nor be discouraged….”  I remember Dad saying that over and over.  God was moving, and I knew He was there.  At one point, Dad came up to me and said that God wouldn’t fail me.   God wasn’t discouraged that I hadn’t believed Him yet.  That gave me hope to continue to seek.  It’s so easy to get discouraged when you’re lost and you’ve been seeking for a long time, and you haven’t gotten saved.  I know now if I had sought Him with all my heart, I would have found Him and been saved, because that’s what God says in His Word.  As I found out, “He shall not fail,” and He didn’t.  It was a couple of years before this truth became completely alive in me.

          During this time, life was going on, and God was continuing to move and save people around me. Camp time came around again in February, 2004.   Bro. Claude Mills started preaching to the lost.  I don’t remember his text.  I only remember he kept calling out to the lost and asking these questions:  “Are you lost?!?”  “Do we have anyone who’s lost, without God?  Is there anyone who is just genuinely LOST?!?”  I fell in the floor and started begging God to do whatever it would take to make me feel my lost condition.  I had never reached a point where I believed that I needed God.  I had been taught it, preached to about it, but had never felt it in me. I was self-sufficient.  My life was just fine.  What did I need God for? 

          That same week my parents gave me a “butterfly” magnet.  (If you come to camp, you know what that is.  If you don’t, come and see!)   The verse was from Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you saith the Lord; thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”  When they read that verse to me, it was just like God (Himself) was telling me that’s really how He felt towards me.  Even though I hated Him, His thoughts toward me were peaceful.  I was reminded of a time when I heard a message about Judas betraying Christ. Even though Jesus knew Judas was going to betray Him, He  called Judas “friend.” 

          Bro. Greg Moffitt preached at our church about his Pearl of Great Price.  He talked about how precious this Pearl was to him.  He told of how he sold and gave up all for this one Pearl, because it meant that much to him.  He cupped his hands and walked around the room and asked people to look at his Pearl.  He preached how much he loved this Pearl.  I wanted what he had!  I wanted to be able to love God that much, but I didn’t know how to get there.  I had other witnesses to how great the Pearl was, such as my parents.  I had seen my dad cry and shout about what God had done for him.  I had watched my mother praise God for being her peace that passeth all understanding when listening to Mrs. Becky Mills sing, “I Give You Jesus.”  However, until God stirred in me, I thought that was just the way my parents were.  Hearing Bro. Greg stirred up a desire in me that I have never felt before. 

          God was still working behind the scenes to answer the prayer for my back.  I spoke earlier of my sister moving to Hattiesburg and working for a rehabilitation clinic and God was working through that.  Around January my sister, Michelle had eaten lunch with a nurse at the clinic where she worked.  She told Mrs. Margaret about me and the struggles I had with my back.  Mrs. Margaret in turn talked to the doctor she worked for about me, and he wanted to meet me.  We set up a consultation time with him for February 10, 2004, so my parents could be there too.  He took x-rays and talked with us about my history since the scoliosis had been diagnosed. He wanted to run more tests but before he would schedule them, he wanted to let me know how critical this issue was and that I had taken it too lightly.  He wanted to schedule surgery for some time that year, preferably in March or April.  He went over the pros and cons with us.  He made me realize that if I wanted to live a comfortable life, I had to get the surgery done as quickly as possible.  We set the surgery date for March 23, 2004. 

          There was a lot going on during this time.  My sister and her fiancé (Craig Routon) were married on February 13, 2004.  Exactly one month later, on March 13, my Grandpa Rutherford passed away.  When grandpa died, I became “really” mad at God.   I felt He had taken my grandfather too soon.  Here I was, mad at God, and my surgery was   scheduled for the next week.  

          The morning of my surgery arrived.  We had to be at the hospital at 6:30 that morning.  They took me back to start prepping me for surgery.  I was so afraid.   At this point, I really believed that God may just let me die.  I knew that if God let me die on that table, He would be just in doing so.  I laid in my bed that morning, while I waited for surgery, looked at my family, and thought to myself that this would be the last time I would ever see them.  Before they took me back, dad and Bro. Greg prayed for me.  That was the last thing I remembered. 

I woke up to a strange voice telling me to wiggle my toes.  I asked if I was going to be able to walk again and then I asked for my mom.  Every time I woke, the verse in Romans 2:4 about “the goodness of the Lord doth lead thee to repentance” came to my mind.  I wondered why that verse would even be on my mind, but more than that, why would God want to be good to me? 

          I stayed in the hospital for only a week and had almost no pain.  They released me from the hospital, and my Mom and I stayed with my sister, Michelle, at her house.   I had to be there for 6 weeks before I could travel a very far distance, so I couldn’t go home.  During the time I stayed with my sister, we went to her church.  The services were very dead.  I felt very desperate to feel God and have Him say something to me.

          After about 3 to 4 weeks of fearing that I would never feel or hear from God again, Denise called and asked mom if she would bring me to come and stay with her for a while.  She told my mom that they were having a meeting at their church with Bro. Larry Winkler.  We got permission from my doctor for me to travel, and we went to Denise’s house.  The meeting was good, but I didn’t feel God at all.  Thursday night, Bro. Winkler preached about Naaman and how he had to admit who and what he was:  just a leper who couldn’t do anything to make himself any better.  That night I told God that I missed his presence and that I just wanted to hear him one more time.

          The next week we went to Lighthouse’s birthday celebration.  God didn’t move on me there either.  I really thought I had said no too many times, and God wasn’t going to talk to me again. 

          I went back to stay with my sister, Denise.  Two weeks later there was a meeting not far from her house.  The week before the preacher arrived, I listened to preaching tapes at night when I went to bed.  I asked God every day and night to do whatever it took to bring me to the end of myself, so I could be saved at that meeting. 

          The meeting started and we went Monday night.  The preacher who was preaching that week was Bro. Fain Jordan.  I had never heard him before.  The first night he preached, “Has America Seen It’s Last Revival?”  Tuesday night, he preached out of Psalms, but I really don’t remember much about that message.  Thursday night, he preached a continuation of his message from Monday night; I didn’t get a thing out of it.  We went back Friday night.  When Bro. Jordan got up to preach and read his text, he said he was closing out the meeting with “Has America Seen It’s Last Revival?”  I was so upset!  I almost closed my Bible and set it next to me.  My first thought was that God must not want to save me.  But somewhere deep inside of me, there was still enough hope to pray.  I told God that I had prayed for a week that if He really wanted to save me, He would meet me at this meeting.  It was the last night, and He hadn’t.  I went on to pray and tell Him that right now, if He wanted to save me, He could change the preacher’s message. 

          Bro. Jordan continued to preach, but I was only half-heartedly listening.  He had my full attention though when he stopped and said he couldn’t preach on what he had planned on preaching.  He said that while he was praying, God told him to change his message, because there was one person there who was religious and lost and had been for a long time.  Then he said, “You know who you are.”  I began to shake and tremble all over.  It was almost like God himself had sat down right next to me and said, “There, I changed his message!”  I was in shock at the fact that God had even heard me, because for about a year, I had felt that God wasn’t hearing me when I prayed.  That night, there was no doubt in my mind that He had. 

          Bro. Jordan was preaching about people who had stepped over God’s day of Grace.  I had often wondered if I had, and if I had, would I know it.  It was very apparent to me that I hadn’t, because God was there and He was talking to me.  God had changed this man’s message for me!

          At the end of the service, Bro. Jordan asked for everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes.  I knew what was coming next.  I heard him say that if you were the one who God changed my message for, why don’t you raise your hand and be honest with God about who you are?”  I couldn’t raise my hand.  I heard Bro. Jordan thank others around me for raising theirs, but I couldn’t do it.  I didn’t even know the majority of the people there; yet, my pride was so big and so strong that I couldn’t do it.

          Bro. Jordan started talking about some things and then asked again for the hand to be raised if you were that person.  I still couldn’t.  Then he told a story of an elderly lady, who was very active in her church.  On her death bed, she admitted to Bro. Jordan that she had never been saved.  When she died, Bro. Jordan said he asked God why she had never been saved.  God told him that when she was a young teenager He had come to her and asked her to give her life to Him, but she said not right now.  He came again when she was a young woman, and she told God there was too much going on in her life.  God came again when she was old, but she had turned Him away so many times she didn’t even recognize His voice.  When Bro. Jordan made that last statement, God told me that if I turned Him away this time, He would never deal with me again.  I shot my hand into the air as quick as I could.  Bro. Jordan never acknowledged me, so I thought he must not have seen me.  But then God said that He (God) had seen me, and I started weeping.  I began to beg God for mercy.  I knew I didn’t deserve it, but I wanted it. More than want, I desired it! 

They had everyone stand, but I couldn’t.  God was there, and I didn’t want to let Him go.  I stayed seated and continued to pray.  The hymn they were singing was “Why Not Tonight?”  A verse in it says “Tomorrow’s sun may never rise to bless thy long diluted sight.  This is the time. O then, be wise.  Be saved, O tonight.” 

          Teresa, my brother-in-law Steven’s sister, was sitting next to me.  She sat down and asked if everything was okay.  I told her that it wasn’t.  She asked what was wrong.  I told her I wasn’t saved, and I needed God.  She started praying for me and then got Shae, her pastor’s wife, to come talk to me.  Shae sat down and asked me a few questions and then she prayed for me.  They dismissed church and everyone, except for the people I was with, left.   

Bro. Jordan came and sat beside me.  He asked questions too, and then he asked me to read Isaiah 53:4-5.  He wanted me to put my name in the place of “our transgressions” and so on.  I looked at the verses and broke.  I couldn’t do it, so he read them to me.  He asked me a question before he left.  He wanted to know if I had ever seen myself as a sinner in need of a Savior.  I told him that I hadn’t.  He said I would never be saved until I did, because that was the reason Christ came – to save sinners

          After he left, Denise, Shae, Teresa and Joy Strickland were sitting around me.  They were trying to get me to admit that I was a sinner.  Denise told me that maybe all God wanted was for me to admit it, and He would be right there to save me.  I just couldn’t say it.  I couldn’t admit it, because I didn’t believe it.  Even though I had heard it all my life, the actuality of it wasn’t real to me.  Joy Strickland asked me if I would just say it.   She said I didn’t need to believe it; she just wanted to hear me say it.  So I said, “I’m a sinner.”  There was no emotion, no feeling, and definitely no believing.  Then they all started “preaching” at me.  It started making me mad, but I could still feel God; I knew He was there for me.  I didn’t understand why, since I couldn’t believe I was really a sinner, but I was glad that He lingered.  Joy said it was obvious, by the way I said it that I didn’t believe it, and she didn’t know why.  She pointed out the fact that if you’re not saved, you’re a sinner, so what was my problem?  My only answer was pride.  I was the “good little girl,” raised in church all my life.  I had sung in church and obeyed and respected my parents better than most kids.  How could I be a sinner, and how dare them for saying I was! 

          Shae was sitting next to me, and she did something that finally made me explode.  She got right up to my ear and said, “Rachel, just say, ‘God, I’m a sinner.”  I got right in her face and screamed at her, “I’M A SINNER!”  When I did, God said to me, “Yes, you are.”  It broke me and I said, “Oh, God, I really am!”  I started weeping and the others did too.  When God told me I was a sinner, His voice wasn’t mean or angry and that amazed me.  I sat up again, and they asked what was going on.  I told them God was still there, but He hadn’t saved me yet.  Denise started to sing, “What you need is Him. What He wants is you. What you need is the blood. Nothing else will ever do. So why do you hesitate? Why do you pause? What you need is Jesus. What He did at the cross.”  Denise asked what was holding me back.  What was I holding onto that I wouldn’t let go of?  I told her I didn’t know of anything. 

          I did the only thing I knew to do.  I started singing the chorus of a song I had known since a child, “Whatever It Takes.”  The chorus says, “For whatever it takes for my will to break, that’s what I’ll be willing to do.” Shae asked me to sing the whole song.  The first verse says, “There’s a voice calling me from an old rugged tree, and it whispers draw closer to me.”  At that phrase, it was the first time I had seen God as approachable.  When I started singing the next verse, God really sat down on me.  The words say, “Take my houses and lands.  Change my dreams and my plans, for I’m placing my whole life in our hands.”  When I sang that phrase God said so clearly, “You’ve never given me your life.”  I stopped singing and started crying.  Shae encouraged me to sing it again.  I began singing, but at those words, “I’m placing my whole life in your hands,” I couldn’t go any farther.  I had been asking God to show me what I was holding on to.  I had thought it was my love for music, so I gave all of it up for awhile.  When I didn’t get saved, I went back to it.  I had made a checklist in my mind.  That night, I saw at the bottom of the list was my life.  All the things on my checklist made up who I was, and God wanted ALL of it.  Denise and Shae told me not to stop now.  Tell God again, and keep singing.  I don’t know if I started singing, but my heart was being poured out to God.  I was telling Him how I didn’t care what He did with my life. I didn’t care if he allowed me to live or die, but if it was to live, I didn’t want to do it anymore without Him in it.  I told Him my life was His to do whatever He wanted with it.  At that moment, it was like He was standing in front of me with a huge, fluffy pillow, and all He said was “Rest.”  I fell into that pillow so thankful for REST!  I knew it was over! NO more battles, only peace.  I could truly sing for the first time, “Blessed assurance, all is at rest.  I in my Savior am happy and blessed.”  I came up thanking God, and then they all joined in.  As long as I live I will never be able to thank God enough for the “rest” I have in my Savior….and, oh, how sweet my rest is!!

Becky Dye

           

           

“IT IS FINISHED!”

The Personal Testimony of Becky Dye

            Recently, I decided that I would like to write about all the things that the Lord has done in my heart.  There are many things that have happened, and I will attempt to relate those things to you, the reader, as best I can.

            When I was six years old, I thought that I got saved.  I repeated a prayer that was told to me and I envisioned heaven opening and God’s light shining down on the head of this little girl that was down on her knees.

            The Holy Spirit began dealing with me again when I was twelve or thirteen.  I knew that I had been saved and felt like the Lord must want me to go into a deeper relationship with Him.  I knew so much about His Word.  I taught several smaller children in Sunday School and, occasionally, I would lead the music in church.  I had begun taking piano lessons because our church did not have a piano player.  I thought that was another way I could help the church.  I felt like the only other thing the Lord must want me to do was to become a missionary when I grew up.  In order to do this, I would need to go to Blue Mountain College after graduation and “be all that I could be”.  But, just to make sure everything was legitimate, I walked the aisle at church and got saved again - - just to make sure.

            After that, the Lord did not deal with me for a few years.  When I became a teenager, the feeling of conviction came back again.  By this time, I had some desires in my heart that I was having a really hard time hiding.  Everyone thought that I was such a good girl, except for my friends at school.  They knew what I was really all about.  They knew the secrets that I told them.  They knew about the things that I wished I could do and the things that I would do if my mom and dad gave me the opportunity.  They all encouraged me to go to college and live on campus, so I could get a taste of what life was all about without my folks or church people being around.

            As it turned out, I could not afford to go to college without working for awhile first.  I was able to get a job at Piper Impact and started making some money.  For a really poor girl to receive a paycheck of $180 a week was something quite spectacular.  I was going to be rich and have everything my heart desired.  That did not seem like such a big order to me because my heart only longed for two things- money and love.  I was getting money, so I had to find someone who would love me.

            I can remember praying when I was about twelve that God would send me the right person to love and marry.  Back then, I was afraid to do anything that God would not favor for fear He would strike me dead.  However, as I got older, I realized that I truly did not fear God.  In all honesty, I feared only what people would think of Becky Donahue.  I had worked a really long time to build the reputation of being a good girl and I was not going t just throw all that away.  So, I set out to find someone to love me.  I had read enough books and looked through enough magazines to know how to get love.  As far as I was concerned, I was ready to go.

            I met a guy named Sandy Dye at the Union Fair and nine months later we were married.  I did not really love him, but I loved the knowledge that he loved me.  I figured the rest would work itself out.

            Life was very hard for Sandy and me.  I tried to love him, but it just was not there.  I talked him into trying to have a child and since he thought it would help our marriage and because he loved me as much as he knew how, he agreed.  I thought it would finally give me someone that I could love and who would love me back- unconditionally.  Nineteen months later, our daughter, Tia, was born.  Finally, I had someone to be special to.

            Things did not get better between Sandy and me.  They only got worse.  We were separating every other week and fussing and yelling all day, every day.  Our daughter was a nervous wreck and constantly begged us not to get a divorce.  She did not want to live without her mommy and daddy.  I did not want to live with Sandy and he did not want to live with me because of the awful person that I had become.  Neither of us wanted to spend a day away from our little girl.  We tried negotiating and everything possible to stay together, but divorce seemed to be the only answer.  You see, I could not be the reason Sandy and I got a divorce because that would greatly tarnish the “good girl” image that I had made for myself, but if he was the one to leave, then I could dump the fault of the whole thing on him.  None of my friends or family would ever believe that I was the one to blame because I was so good.  They really did not know me at all.

            One day, we decided to visit a church where Bro. Greg Moffitt was the preacher.  He was wonderful.  He was explosive, dynamic and just an awesome preacher, so we decided to start going there.  The Lord began dealing with my heart again.  (There were a lot of things going on in my life at that time that I just cannot put on paper.  They were just too horrid for me to write out).  He (Jesus) began killing my soul with the law.  The Old Testament was killing me.  Everything that I read said, “You’re lost”.  I knew that I could not be lost because I remembered the vision as if it were yesterday.  I remembered the repeated prayers, but the weight on my heart was so awesomely heavy.  I thought that surely I must walk stoop-shouldered from the weight of all my sin.  I asked advice from many other preachers.  I called the preacher from my childhood and he confirmed my salvation and other preachers that had led me through prayers, but nothing took away the weight of sin upon my heart.  We went back to the church where Bro. Greg Moffitt was preaching.  He preached hard and heavy.  The words were unlike any I had ever heard.  It seemed that every word went straight to my heart and pierced me.  I was living in horrible, horrible sin– sin so bad that I thought I could never get out of it.  I thought the only way to right the wrong that I had done was to die.  Suicide was on my mind constantly.  If it were not for the fear of going to hell, I could have and would have easily taken my own life.  My sin was causing much pain and heartache.  There were no answers no matter which way I turned, except for death.  My heart was continually being squeezed by the weight of sin.  I thought often that the great squeezing on my heart would surely put me into cardiac arrest and I would die without having to commit suicide.

            Then one day, it happened.  The pressure on my heart was no longer there.  It was replaced by a dead, empty feeling.  I had heard of “stepping over God’s deadline”, and I thought this was what had happened.  I started asking and begging God to put the old squeeze on me again, but there was just a dry desert inside.  I longed for something to go on inside, but all of Bro. Greg’s words just fell by the wayside.  Two weeks had gone by.  I was very fearful, but I did not blame God for giving up on me.  I looked back over all the times that God had dealt with me over the years.  I could blame no one but myself for the emptiness and loneliness inside.  I could not point my finger at anyone but myself, for I realized that I deserved to go to hell.

            On a Sunday night at church two weeks after the Lord had quit dealing with me, He came back and heaviness was once again upon my heart.  I was burdened, yet I was so happy to be burdened that I could not be sad over the burden– if that makes any sense at all.  I was so glad to know that God was giving me another chance, that even though I felt the weight of sin, I was thrilled to death that God was doing something in my heart.  I did not dare to go to the altar to pray.  Many, many times before I had gone to the altar to pray when the Lord was dealing with me and I could feel His presence leave as soon as I got there.  I did not want Him to ever leave me again, so I promised Him if He would just stay with me until I got home, that I would talk with Him heart to heart.  He did not leave me.  He stayed with me all the way home.  I could not talk to Sandy.  I only told him he needed to hurry home because I had to talk to the Lord as soon as we got home.  I went into the bedroom, shut the door and left the light off.  I told the Lord everything I knew to say, but nothing happened– but He did not leave me.  Finally, I just told Him that I could not live my life the way it was.  I was going to hell and I was no longer afraid of it.  I deserved it, so I was ready to face my just punishment.  I told Him of my desires to commit suicide because I was in sin so deep that there was no way out for me.  No matter what happened other than death for me, someone was going to be forever hurt and scarred.  I was not even fit to rear my daughter.  I believed anyone could do a much better job with her than I could.  I asked the Lord if He would set up a car wreck or something because for some reason, I was just too chicken to take my own life.  I figured I would probably mess that up too.  And then I said, “But Lord, if You can find anything in my life that You could use for Your honor and glory, would You just take me and use it”.  There was no more wildness going on in my heart.  It was gone!  There was no more desire to take my own life and die.  It was gone!  There was just this stillness and peace inside my heart.  “Surely, this must be salvation.”  I just sat on the edge of the bed in amazement.  There was no fear.  There was no desire to die.  I opened our bedroom door and told Sandy that I thought I just got saved.  I told him all the things that I had hidden in my heart from him.  I felt truly clean.

            The following Wednesday night, I told Bro. Greg about what had happened.  Later on, I told the church about me being saved.  I noticed, however, that the old desires were still there, but I did not worry about it much because I figured the Lord could fix that in His own time.  I even talked to Bro. Greg about the language that I used when Sandy and I would fuss.  (We still did plenty of that).  Bro. Greg assured me that I did not pick up that language all in one day and it would not go away all in one day.  That made sense to me.

            Not many weeks later, Bro. Greg announced that he was leaving the church.  I was deeply hurt.  I loved him and I could not imagine ever sitting under a different preacher.  (A few weeks later, I heard that Bro. Greg did not know the Lord.  He was lost.  This did not upset me too much because I wanted him to be saved no matter what people thought).

            A short time later, Sandy and I started going to New Oak Grove Baptist Church in Myrtle, Mississippi.  There were not many people going to church there.  I felt comfortable.  The people were very nice and friendly, so I ended up joining the church.  Sandy did not come to church with me.  I went only because I felt too guilty if I didn’t go.  Our daughter, Tia, would beg to go to church and that helped me keep going too.

            For the next few years, I tried to remember to read the Bible and pray.  I prayed every night before going to bed and felt like that was sufficient.  I taught Tia to pray every night before she went to bed and before every meal.  The prayer thing was not difficult, just a normal part of every day, but the Bible study was such a chore.  I did not understand why a person would have to read God’s word.  He saved them.  What else could He want from them?

            Things did not get much better between Sandy and me as far as an enjoyable marriage, but the fussing died down a little.  We were determined that divorce would not happen to us.  It was all for Tia though, and not because I loved Sandy.  One day, I asked God if He would teach me how to love Sandy.  I believe He taught me to be affectionate towards Sandy.  He started showing me some of the good things about Sandy and I started not wanting him to leave.  I began to have a need for him.  I began to love him and I thank God for it because it was not in me to love him.

            Everything in my life was going okay.  I had sin in my life, but who didn’t?  I still had a temper, but who didn’t?  Life was good!

            Five years later, Bro. Claude Mills and his wife, Becky, came to our church.  New Oak Grove Baptist Church had gone through two preachers since I had been there.  I did not expect this preacher to stay more than three years either.  But, this preacher was different than the other preachers.  He was unlike any preacher I had ever known in my whole life of going to church.  I liked him and I knew that he knew God personally.

            One Sunday night while he was preaching a salvation message, my heart was pricked much like it has been pricked when I was a teenager.  I freaked out.  As soon as the service was over, I talked to Bro. Claude about it.  I really don’t remember what all was said.  The only thing that I remember from that meeting was Bro. Claude asking me why I tried not to sin.  I told him, “because it was not right”, while thinking to myself, “this is about the dumbest question I have ever been asked.”  He asked me why it wasn’t right.  I just laughed at him thinking he was asking one of those trick/joke kind of questions, but he was very serious.  I replied, “because God said that we are not supposed to sin.”  Then I asked him why he tried not to sin and his answer was, “Because I love the Lord and I do not want to hurt the One that I love.”  That was so awesome to me.  Bro. Claude spoke as if he Lord was a man that he knew personally.  I felt like my head was spinning from his reply.  I felt drunk.  I told him that I had never heard anything like that in my whole life.  I am sure he responded to my reaction, but I cannot remember anything else that was said.  That statement made a lasting impression on my life that would change it forever.

            From that day on, I began to watch Bro. Claude and Ms. Becky very closely.  I watched how they acted and reacted.  I listened to everything they said.  I asked Becky’s opinion about rearing my tow children.  I had never known anyone like them in my life.  These people knew God as if He lived inside their home.  I knew that my feelings toward God and their feelings for God did not even compare.  I told this to Bro. Claude later.  He told me to seek the Lord about it and He would give me the answers.  I told the Lord that I did not know why these two had salvation and I had salvation, but there was nothing in our lives even remotely similar other than my testimony sounded right and I could go back to the peace.

            Many times after that, the Lord pricked my heart about salvation, but I would call Him the devil.  I did not do this on purpose.  I just really thought the devil was trying to confuse me about my status with God.  I went to Bro. Claude many times about my concerns and he always told me to keep praying and seeking the Lord’s guidance.

                                                                                                                       

            I began reading my Bible every day so that I could become a stronger Christian.  I asked the Lord to cause me to love Him the way that Bro. Claude and Becky loved Him.  I wanted whatever it was that they had.  I wanted to raise my hands to the God in heaven and know that He loved me beyond measure and to have that closeness that the Mills had.  Man, that looked good to me!

            In November and December of 1997, Bro. Claude told Sandy and me that he wanted to have a grassroots meeting around the first of the year, which sounded great.  I was really looking forward to it.  Bro. Claude had just preached about Moses leading the Israelites out of the land of Egypt and they were at the Red Sea ready to cross over on dry land.  My heart was leaping.  Yes! Yes!  That’s right, preacher!  He felt like it was time to have a grassroots meeting and see where the Lord wanted  to take us.  Yeah!  Go ahead on, preacher!  So, he felt like God would have him call Bro. Greg Moffitt to preach.  My heart dropped and my spirit started running crazy.  I truly felt my heart leave the edge of the Red Sea and run back into Egypt.  This is very hard for me to understand even today.  (Bro. Greg had been to New Oak Grove and preached on several occasions.  The Moffitts and the Mills were very good friends.  Bro. Greg had been saved way back and he was a mighty man of God.  He was very direct and forceful with every breath from behind the pulpit.  He had much assurance about his position with God).  I talked to Bro. Claude about being fearful of Bro. Greg for some reason.  I can better describe it as the devil being the ruler of my heart and when he heard Bro. Greg Moffitt’s name, he ran.  That is really how my heart felt.  Bro. Claude told me to settle down and continue praying.  Well, I did not pray about anything.  I was too worried about why my heart did not accept Bro. Greg.  I cannot remember knowing him and not loving him.  Why was I afraid of him all of a sudden?

                                                           

            The meeting started right after the first of the year and I was excited about it.  I still had some very uneasy feelings inside, but I knew that God would work things out.  Bro. Greg preached hard and I could tell there was conviction on people everywhere.  No one moved.  No decisions were made.  There were very few people even praising the Lord for the things that He had done for them when they were lost.  The air seemed to be thick the whole week.  The Lord dealt with me many times, but I did not know for sure that it was Him.  I was still convinced that it was the devil just messing with me.

            I did have questions and doubts about salvation though.  One thing that bothered me was how a person could get saved and go for years without really knowing anything at all about Him.  Another thing that bothered me was the pricks that I felt in my heart.  They felt very familiar.  I felt them years ago when I thought that I truly got saved.  Also, I knew that my heart had never truly been changed.  My heart was changing now after being around the Mills, but how could it have not changed all those years before I met them.   I stayed in my Bible constantly seeking and praying all the time.

            I got to the point that I started feeling physically nauseous on many occasions when I was under conviction.  Many times I did not think that I was going to be able to sit through the sermon.

            Bro. Greg came and went.  I believe one person received the Lord as their personal Savior and that was great.  But, I am telling you, almost the whole church was shaken that week.  After Bro. Greg left, Bro. Claude and I talked about the services.  He said he did not think that the Lord had closed the services down.  I agreed.  It just did not seem that the closing part ever came.  After some time, Bro. Claude told the church that we needed to pick back up where we left off on the meeting and he wanted to have Bro. Greg Moffitt come back.  That went over like a thunderstorm at a pool party.  There were only a few people that seemed glad.  Everyone else seemed to have the opinion of “Whatever, it’s just another one of Bro. Claude’s ideas.”

            Bro. Greg returned for another week and preached hard and heavy.  My life was turning upside down.  This time, I was on a roller coaster that showed no signs of slowing down.  I did not talk to anyone for a few days about it.  I prayed.  I talked to God.  I searched the scriptures and I was really giving in to the idea that maybe it was Jesus who was pricking my heart.  I talked to Sandy, Bro. Claude and Becky about it some, but I tried to keep it between the Lord and myself until I knew for sure.

            The day finally came that I had no doubt about where I stood with God.  In knew that my heart had never been changed and if that were the case according to the Bible, I was lost.  I went to the church study where Bro. Claude and Sandy were.  I told them both what I had discovered and I walked out.  I still felt very nauseous all the time when the Lord was talked about.  In most of the services we had, I wanted to run out of the church and just keep on running, but I couldn’t.  It was not because I was looking so desperately for the Lord, but because I did not want anyone to know that something was going on in me.  I mean for the last two years, I had really learned to praise the Lord over some things, raising my hands up to the ceiling and the whole deal.  How in the world would anyone believe that I was not saved?

            For the next few weeks, I cried and begged the Lord for salvation and it did not seem that I felt anything at all.  Then during the evening service on May 17th, the Lord visited New Oak Grove Baptist Church and He came to me.  Bro. Claude began to preach.  I remember him reading a verse in 1 John and in my heart, I asked the Lord what if He could not change me.  The next thing I heard Bro. Claude say was to turn to Romans 10:8.  All of a sudden, my heart because to pound fiercely.  After everything Bro. Claude said, I would ask the Lord a question and the answer would come immediately out of Bro. Claude’s mouth.  For some reason, I was able to believe everything he was saying.  He would say something else and I would ask the Lord about it.  Bro. Claude would immediately tell the answer.  I knew that the Lord had come for me and I was about to be saved.  The preacher said to confess.  I asked God about confession and Bro. Claude immediately said how to confess.  I said, “Oh, I can’t do that!  Lord do you want me to go outside and confess to the trees and flowers about you?  I will!  I will!  But I can’t confess You in front of these people.  They will never understand!”  My heart continued to beat wildly inside my body.  I thought surely my chest would explode.  I never heard another word that Bro. Claude said during that sermon.  I talked and talked to the Lord about me not confessing what He was doing in my heart in front of all the people.  I got up and went to the altar and the Holy Ghost left me.  I wondered if that was the peace I was supposed to feel, but I could not get satisfactions form it.  I talked to Bro. Claude and Sandy about it many times, but I could not get satisfaction with what happened there.

            Then, on July 15, 1998, we had prayer service for the women.  (We did this every Tuesday night).  Becky Mills shared with me a testimony that she had been reading.  It touched my heart until Becky said that the Lord gave the girl peace and she got up and wondered if she just got saved.  That disturbed me because that’s not what I wanted.  I didn’t want anything that meant that I would still have to question it after I got saved.  I couldn’t understand how the Lord could save me and my first thought be “did I just get saved?”  That was not for me.  That is not what I was looking for.  I wanted to see Jesus.  I wanted to see the cross and what He did for me.  Nothing more or less would satisfy me.

            I explained to the ladies that I felt like I was in a lake and that I was fighting frantically to keep my head above water.  When I relaxed a little, my head would go under.  I was afraid that if I went too far under, I would not be able to reach the bottom like you can in a pool when you push back up and come up for air.  I was afraid that I would go under and fall though the bottomless pit and wake up in hell.  I felt like I didn’t have a choice.  I had to fight with everything that was within me.  If I didn’t fight, I would probably die.  I was not ready to die.  I could not die without Jesus!  I prayed, “Oh, Jesus, help me to find You in all my confusion.”

            Bro. Claude preached about the people’s response to the man of God’s preaching on July 22, 1998.  I did not know that every time the preacher spoke that it was always for me.  I thought that sometimes it was for me and sometimes it would be for someone else.  I hoped I had a different attitude towards the preaching service.  There had been times when a preacher would preach and I did not get into it immediately.  I thought that the message must have been for some of the others and not for me.

            On the morning of July 23, 1998 while I was getting ready for work, I was praying to the Lord to please save me.  I told him that all He would have to do was speak peace to my heart and I knew that it would be done.  The thought that came across my mind was, “Becky, that is not true.  You do not want Me to simple speak ‘peace’.”  I knew immediately that this was true.  It broke my heart.  I was afraid to just receive peace because I was afraid that my faith would be in peace and not in Jesus.  I felt that I was like all those people in the Bible that I had such a hard time understanding- how they could not simply believe the words of Jesus when He walked on this earth.  I thought they were so ignorant not to trust in the One who loved them so much, but I was viler than they were.  I had their example to go by, but I still held on to my own strength.  There was something about trusting in that which I could not touch with my own hands that I greatly feared.  I would ask myself questions like, “What if ten years down the road, I have to go through this all over again because for some reason, it just was not God?  What if I fall just short of faith in Him and never get what my heart is truly longing for?”  Then, I would think in my heart, “Oh, Jesus, I fear that I am too religious.  There is too much in my heart to work through to get to my heart.  I am demon possessed, but it is not devils that have me doing wrong things in man’s eyes, but devils that own my heart and my mind that keep me worried about me and concerned with me.  I would not even cry out to you if you did not move upon my heart.  They own me and I am theirs.  The harder I right the, the deeper I sink.  Thank you for moving on my heart.  At least when you move, I have hope.  You have never done anything bad to me or hurt me.  As a matter of act, the only tin you could be guilty of is loving me.  You have show me so much about you and your Father.  I think if I could only see you in the darkness, I could put a death grip on you until you pulled me away from the demons”.  But, Bro. Claude would say that if that was possible, then it would be something that I could put my hands on and claim that I did.  “Jesus, have you ever had someone in as big a mess as I?  Please, remember my name.”

            Tia sang a song in front of the church called, “Paid in Full”.  The song talks about Jesus going to the cross and paying the price for our sin with His life.  It dawned on me that the cross was more than Jesus’ blood being shed for sinners.  For some reason, I had a difficult time comprehending the purpose of His blood for cleansing sin.  It seemed more to me that Jesus died on the cross because He loved me.  He loved me!  He was my friend.  He knew that one day I was going to need a Redeemer to provide a way to bridge the gap between God and me.  He was my bridge.  I still don’t understand the blood part.  I don’t see how His blood covers sin.  I did see that He chose to die in my place.  It caused my heart to leap for joy, but also to break because I did not love Him in that way.  I found myself wanting to be on a porch so I could jump into his arms (even though I could not see Him) if He would only speak my name so I would know He was there.  He never did.  Once again, I went home with an empty heart thinking that maybe He would want me later tonight.

            On July 30, 1998, I went to the Mississippi Delta Camp Meeting at Calvary Baptist Church in West Helena, Arkansas.  Bro. Mike Williams was preaching and some of his words helped me.  I found out that all the times I felt the Lord pulling on my heart and I talked to him but couldn’t find Him, the Lord was teaching and showing me lostness.  Man, it hurt!  He would call me and pull me to Him, but I couldn’t find Him.  I would think, “I can’t see You in all the darkness, God.  I am too blind and in too much darkness to find You, Lord.  What can I do?  I’ll just wait for You to tell me.”  My head hurt, I could hardly breathe and my heart would ache.

            On my way home from Camp Meeting, I listened to an audio cassette by Bro. Bennett.  He preached about Peter stepping out fo the boat and going to Jesus.  Peter had all the faith he needed to go to the Lord.  When he got out of the boat and saw the storm about him, he became so fearful that he lost sight of Jesus and began to sink.  He said that where fear is strong, faith cannot abide.  That hit me right in my heart.  I was so afraid.  I was afraid that if the Lord saved me then, what would keep me from finding out ten years later that I really did not get saved after all.  I didn’t feel like I would be any better off than I was now.  I feared that with all my heart.  I felt that all the things that I had in my head worked against me to keep the Lord from saving me.  The Lord spoke to my heart and told me that He put all those things in my head for good.  He allowed me to learn all the things I had learned over the years to give me some knowledge so He could impart faith.  He allowed me to know some things so I would not waiver.  I thanked God for all the tools He had allowed me to have even though I did not know how to properly use them.  I decided I was no longer going to fight against the things that I knew to be true.  I knew that once God saves a person, they are saved forever.  I knew that He died for me and that somehow the cross would be made personal to me.  I still did not understanding exactly what the cross meant to me as an individual, but I knew that He intended to bring me into that knowledge.  All of a sudden, I was not so fearful.  I could sing to Him again.  That day was good.

            The next day, my mind was fresh about the things the Lord had shown me the previous day.  I believed that if he spoke to my heart, I would be saved that very day.  While I was singing in the choir that morning, I could sing with confidence that the Lord would do the things in the future that I was singing about.  The Lord did nor even give me a Holy Ghost nudge that day.  I was a little downhearted, but still hopeful.  A couple of questions crossed my mind: “Could the fight that I have in my dreams be that I am fighting against seeing who I really am?  Could I be refusing to see my wicked, sinful self?”

            On August 4, 1998, Susan Robbins and I met at the church for prayer.  She gave me some things to consider.  Psalm 149:4 says, “For the Lord taketh pleasure in His people: He will beautify the meek with salvation.”  Habakkuk 2:3 says, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: thought it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”  She also gave me these words from a song in The Baptist Hymnal on page 53; it says, “In His time/He makes all things beautiful/In His Time/Lord please show me every day/as you’re teaching me Your way/ that you do just what You say/ in Your time/Lord, my life to You I bring/May each song I have to sing/be to You a lovely thing/in Your time.”  I cried.  I prayed that the Lord would make me beautiful in His eyes whenever He wills it to be done.

            On the way home, I prayed that God would give me a new heart.  Surely He would not want to live in this heart of mine.  It cannot be trusted or true.  I thought, “When You save me, Lord, I ask for a new heart for You to dwell in.  I don’t want You to reign in this filth of a heart that my body depends on for breath.  I want a heart that will rejoice in you.  I want one that will not be prone to wander or stray.  In order to have this new life, I will have to have a new heart.  Lord, you know this heart better than I do.  You must have a heart in heaven with my name written on it that You would rather me have.  I will wait for a word from You.  Hasten to me.  Please do not linger.”

            On August 6, 1998, Bro. Ed Paschal preached at our church.  He preached about the Jews in the Book of John; how the Bible says they were the Jews that believed, but God showed them that their father was the devil.  The Lord did not move in a mighty way in my heart, but Bro. Ed’s preaching was helpful.  I left the church with rest and assurance that the Lord was going to finish what He had started.

            I talked to Sandy on the way home about it.  He was not as thrilled about everything as I was.  He said that it seemed like I had become content with where I was.  In all honesty, I had.  I had more rest from the fight that had been going on inside my heart than I had in days.  I enjoyed it.  The fight had died down for awhile.

            Bro. Claude called the next day and shook me right out of my comfortable situation.  I told him what Sandy and I had talked about the previous night.  He agreed with Sandy one hundred percent.  He said he did not want me to be comfortable or rest until I was able to rest in Christ.  I told him that I did not want to move from where I was.  I thought I had earned the right to rest for awhile.  He told me that I was right back at works again and doing what I thought was fair.  This really shook me.  I felt like I was in the middle of that lake again.  A life preserver had come my way and I had grabbed on to it with everything I had.  The preacher, my pastor, came along and stuck a big nail in it and now I was on my own again.

            Bro. Claude explained to me that the Lord had shown me everything there was to show me.  He said it was like a gift right in front of me and all I needed to do was reach out and take it.  He said Jesus was standing in the doorway and the only way I could get to the other side was to go through Him.  I prayed and prayed.  I prayed so hard that I could almost see Him.  It was as if I was right in front of Him, but I could not get inside Him to get to the other side.  I was toe to toe, but I fell just short of whatever it took to get to the other side.  I was so close and yet so far away; almost saved, but still lost.

            On August 7, 1998, at about 10:00 a.m., I started to read a book called “Advice for Seekers”  by Charles Spurgeon.  I couldn’t concentrate, so I went up to the storage room at work.  I was reading a chapter called, “Seekers Encouraged-The Substitute.”  Spurgeon began telling me what “The Substitute” was.  Jesus Christ took my place on the cross.  Jesus took my place before God.  Sin had to be dealt with– my sin.  Jesus stood before God with my sin.  He allowed me to stand before God with His righteousness.  I cried and cried and cried.  I told Jesus that I was sorry for my sin.  I thought the only one affected by my sin was me.  I had no idea.  I thanked Jesus for being my substitute.  I asked God what needed to be done next.  I was clean and righteous before Him.  What next?  I ran downstairs to my desk to call my preacher and ask him what was next.  He was not at home.  He had gone to work with his wife.  I was so afraid that the Lord would leave me.  I knew I was so close to being saved.  I went to the bathroom to clean my face from my crying.  On my way back, I thought I would call Sandy at work.  He was saved.  He would know what I needed to do next.

            When I got to my desk and sat down, it came to my heart, “It is finished.”  I stopped and listened.  Huh?  It is finished?  “Becky, there is nothing else to do.  It is finished!”  The words penetrated my heart.  My mouth must have dropped open.  I just sat there and thought about it.  That’s right!  He took my place!  I stood before God righteous and Jesus stood before God with all my sin!  He took my place!  It is finished!  I just sat there and smiled and smiled.  It is finished.  There’s nothing else to be said.  There’s nothing else to be done.  I did not do one single thing.  Jesus did it all!

            I called Sandy at work and told him.  He was so happy for me.  I tried to call Bro. Claude at work.  The lady that answered the phone asked if it was an emergency.  I told her to me it was.  She asked if it was life or death.  I wanted to tell her it was life, but I just smiled and told her “no”.  She took my phone number and said she would tell him to call me.

            When I was in the van on my way home to pick up Sandy for lunch, it crossed my mind as to what I was going to do when the tempter came.  I didn’t even have to think of the answer.  It just came all on its own.  I will send him to the Lord.  What’s the devil going to do?  Tell Jesus that what was done on the cross was not enough?  I just laughed.  I did not have anything to do with this, so I will have to send him to Jesus.  I saw Sandy at lunch and we talked and talked about salvation.  It was so good.

            When I returned to work, Bro. Claude had called and left a message for me to call him back.  I did.  When I told him, he just laughed and laughed.  He said, “I told you!”  I asked him to tell Beck for me.

            I had so many people I wanted to call and tell: Susan Robbins, Edith Dees, Lindy Brown, Katie Anderson, Diane Anderson, Bro. Charles Shipman, Bro. Greg and Janet Moffitt, Cindy Robbins, Carla Kizer, Mrs. Wanda Collins (It was her testimony that Ms. Becky had shared earlier that upset me because she got saved and had to ask the Lord if she had really gotten saved.  I was disheartened that she felt like she had to ask), Bro. Ed Paschal and Kim Hood.

            I thank God.  He gave me something that I cannot put my hands on.  He gave me something so real.  Jesus took my place and allowed me to take His place.  What more could I ask for?  I had been begging God to please let me have an enormous experience so that the devil could not ever make me doubt.  He did, but it was not what I had expected.  There was not even the immediate feeling of peace, which I had expected.  When He told my heart, “It is finished,” the peace was already there!  All I could say was, “Yeah! What more can I do?  Not one thing.”  It is Him!  It is all of Him!

Danny Sullivan

           

HE REMBERED ME

Testimony of   Danny Sullivan

          I would like to give God glory in getting me to the place where I could finally stop working and rest in the finished work of Christ.  I don’t understand why things had to happen as they did and have only recently understood why it took so long. That being said, I never had an honest heart before God.  I never could see who or how bad I really was.  My mind set was that God was just not being fair; however, He loved me all the way and allowed me to see that I was my own worst enemy, and God was never at fault. 

          I have lived in Nettleton, Mississippi my entire life.   My mother raised me in a Baptist church, where we attended until there was a split caused by unfaithful members being brought in to vote against the pastor, forcing him to leave.  We left that church along with several other people and started a new church.  I was a young teenager at the time.  I grew up during hard times.  My dad was an alcoholic, which made things even worse.  I sat under preaching from the time I was a small boy, but I never heard the total “real” truth until the early nineties. 

          Even at a young age, I believed in God and was concerned for my soul my whole entire life.  My first decision for Christ was one Sunday night in 1968.  We always had a song of invitation after the message to give people an opportunity to make a decision for Christ or to join the church. I stood up after the invitation was over and told the church that I had just gotten saved.  Why I did that, I don’t know.  We were never taught about the ways of God and nothing really changed in my life at that time.      

          As I grew older, I knew something or should I say someone was missing in my life.  This caused me to start searching and I made several false professions.  In our church, we were taught you go down during invitation,  ask God to save you; just believe and you would be saved.  We never understood anything about the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing a lost man to Christ.  I never even knew that you had to experience lostness (realizing your condition as an unsaved or lost man) or brokenness over your sin against God.  There were just so many things we never heard.

          I thank God for not taking His hand off me during those years.  He continued to give me mercy and grace, even though I knew nothing about Him.  Thank God, He didn’t leave me to myself.  As best we knew, there were some good services, but for the most part, there were a lot of old traditions practiced every church service. In 1970, the members built a new church and named it Eureka Baptist Church.  I attended that same church until March of 2003.  I was the last one of the original members to leave.

          I married Julie Bishop in 1975, and we have one son, Scott.  God gave me a good family, a wife who stood with me and prayed for me during the difficult times, even though I wasn’t a good husband during those years.  I thought I was an ideal church member.  I never drank alcohol, never did drugs, never smoked, never ran around with the worldly crowd, taught Sunday School, was church treasurer, did devotionals, was an ordained deacon, went on visitation, and did just about anything that the other members would not do. However, I think that proved to work more against me than for me.  From the church’s standpoint, I was “it”.  At home, I was not always what I professed to be at church.  We went through a divorce in the early 1980’s. But even in that, God worked by allowing our son to recover from bronchial pneumonia, which brought us back together.  We were remarried in a little less than a year.

          In 1982, for the first time, if only in my head, God let me see that I was lost and that I didn’t know Him.  Several from our church were visiting another church during revival services.  The visiting evangelist was preaching on three kinds of church members, and I saw myself as the one who had everything - except Jesus.  During the invitation, I grabbed my pastor’s hand and asked him to go to the altar with me.  He wanted to know why we were going to the altar.  I told him that I was lost and wanted to get saved.  During all my other professions, I would tell the preacher my reason for being at the altar was because, “I guess that I am lost,” never really understanding real lostness.   My pastor told me that he could not save me, but would I trust him to tell me about Christ, the One who could.  He prayed for me, and then asked me to pray.  When I finished praying, he asked me if I got saved.  I really didn’t know or didn’t even know what to expect, so I told him that I needed to pray again.  I’m sure I thought that I’ll get it right this time.  During my prayer, it came to me what I had always heard all my life:  salvation is not a feeling, and God does not lie.  Doing everything I knew to do at the time, I concluded that I had just gotten saved. We stood up and told the church that I had, and I honestly thought that finally this was the real thing.  Everyone kept propping me up, and I was becoming more religious every day.  But, I can’t explain it, something inside me was still not right!

          I went with this experience until the early 90’s, when Bro. Jim Stafiej became pastor of our church.  He introduced us to new things from the Word and a lot of old traditions were torn down.  However, some of the members could not accept him or his new teachings and left.  Through his coming, we met several new preachers and members from other churches, who acted differently from the way our church was.  As I sat under the preaching and heard their testimonies, something began to really trouble me about the experience I had in 1982.  As time went on, I would catch myself going to the altar and asking God to show me if I truly was saved or still lost.  It was evident, they had something that I did not have.  I would go outside late at night and sit on the tailgate of my truck, knowing that I had an emptiness on the inside that I could not shake.  My wife would come out, and we would talk.  But, I just could not give in to say that I was still lost, after everything that I had done for the church. 

          In 1994, Bro. Ed Paschall was preaching a meeting at our church.  On Thursday, there was something going on inside me and I had stood it as long as I could.  I made up my mind that during the night service, I had to get honest with God, myself, and the church.  I stood up and told the church that I was lost.  After getting honest, a peace came over me and a burden lifted.  Little did I know, but that night began a fifteen year journey in my quest to find Jesus.  During those years, I sat under powerful preaching like I had never heard by great men of God:  Bro. Charles Shipman, Bro. Greg Moffitt, Bro. Tim Rutherford, Bro. Claude Mills, Bro. Terry Owen, Bro. Mike Williams, Bro. Charlie Garza, and many others. 

          My life became like a roller coaster – up one day and down the next.  God would show up during services, but pride and unbelief kept me from resting and trusting in Christ.  I made many trips to the altar but never got any real peace.  Bro. Terry told me one night that I was not broken over my sin.  Bro. Charles told me that I was trying to get saved and then believe.  I would listen to tapes, read pamphlets, read testimonies, but nothing seemed to work.  Discouragement would set in, but for some reason I never totally turned away from God.   I had made up my mind that I had to have something real and didn’t want another false profession.  I had no excuse, but God had to work repentance and faith in my life.  I just could not see who I had really become.  At times, I became contended just being lost, and at times people would prop me up telling me to get away from that Shipman crowd, repent to God, and go on with my life.  They would say there was no way I could be lost.  During these years, I made life miserable for my family, but they stood with me.  My wife kept praying and writing pages of promises for me to read, but I just could not stay serious. 

          Sometime around 2000, our church began to die.  People began to leave, one person or one family at a time.  I had been there so long and thought that I could not leave.  We were always told that God had something special for us and I didn’t want to walk out on God.  He was my only hope.  Finally, in March of 2003, God convinced me that I needed to leave the church. Here I was, a lost man, with no church or pastor.  I visited churches but I never found a place where I could settle in and call home.  God reminded me of a statement that Bro. Greg told me a few years earlier, “When you don’t know God is around, you must obey the man of God and believe what he says is from God.”  I never saw that before and didn’t realize that God would actually speak to people through the preacher.  Bro. Greg told me that I had to go where I could find God.

          A short time later, I began going to New Oak Grove (now Faith Baptist Church) in Myrtle, Mississippi, where Bro. Claude Mills is pastor.  I had visited there many times over the years.  I attended Sunday morning services most of the time and occasionally on Sunday and Wednesday nights.  I attended part-time for about six years. 

          The members there were so different now than they were in the nineties.  They were praising God, loving on each other, and even loving on me.  The preaching was powerful but with love, people had gotten saved, and others were now getting saved.  I felt like an outsider wanting to fit in, but I was so out of place.  I wanted to know the God they knew, but I could not find Him.  I even attended meetings from time to time but never really wanted to go all the way with God.  In my own mind, I was sacrificing a lot just to drive that far (about 60 miles one way).  I had a hard time accepting Bro. Claude as my pastor, because I did not understand that he loved me.  I had been hurt many times by preachers walking off and leaving us with no shepherd at Nettleton.  My life was in a mess.  I didn’t know what to expect, how to know when God was drawing me, or how to know when or if I should go to the altar. 

          Bro. Tim Rutherford preached a meeting that really helped me.  He preached from the Book of Ruth that week.  God moved on me and used Ruth 2:8-9, “Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens:  Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? And when those are athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.”  God told me that I was not to leave Faith Baptist Church, but to stay with Bro. Claude and remain under him as my pastor. 

          In November of 2008, after coming back from the mountains, God began a work in my life like never before.  My eyes were opened and I began seeing things in a different way.  I was so religious and thinking of myself as being better than other people.  I would watch them as they lived their lives and would say to myself that I don’t live like they do; thinking myself to be somebody when in reality I was actually a “nobody.”  One Wednesday night, Mrs. Becky Dye told me as she looked at me face-to-face, “They are who they are, not trying to hide their sin, but you are trying to cover up who you really are; passing judgment on them, not seeing that you are guilty, and even worse than they are.”  WOW!

          Bro. Paschall sent me a pamphlet about Paul counting the cost.  God began to show me that this is real stuff, and I am right in the middle of it.  Something began happening to me, and I could not stop it.  I began carrying a load that was weighing heavy on me.  As I read the pamphlet, God began letting me see that I never cared about anyone but myself and that I had done whatever I pleased, when I wanted and had never stopped to think about who would be affected or what would be the result of my decisions.   I never saw how much I was hurting God just by making promises and not being able to keep them.  I would do whatever I desired and would justify myself and my actions, finding a way to tell God that they were alright to do. 

I had a spell with my nerves and blood sugar, losing about fifteen pounds.  I could not sleep or eat and everything put me in a state of panic.      God began taking things and desires away from me.  He began changing my attitude towards Him.  Things I had been doing were no more important to me.  I was getting a hunger for God.  For the first time in a long time, I was becoming serious about God and His Word.  I didn’t understand what was going on, but it was good seeing something positive going on in my life.

          Work was slow and I spent hours reading the Bible.  God gave me twenty-two pages of scripture that I wrote down - promises from His Word that began giving me hope.  I shared some of them with my wife, and she was amazed at what was going on in my life. Her prayers along with others were beginning to be answered. 

          As a few weeks passed, my confidence in Faith Baptist Church and Bro. Claude was becoming stronger.  One Sunday night before church, I went to Bro. Claude and asked him what was wrong with me.  His answer was not exactly what I expected.  He told me that I was an indecisive person, trying to be on both sides of the fence. Basically, what he told me was that it was time to get in or get out.  It was decision time for me. 

          Up until then, I was only going to church on Sunday mornings, using the drive as an excuse, but just really not wanting to and being satisfied with my decision.  God got my attention through Bro. Claude’s answer to me.  I began going to church every service.  My nerves were getting better, and I was learning how to love God by loving on His people.  My desire to be around God’s people was overwhelming.  A love was coming out of me that I never had before.  The Word was becoming alive and being important to me.  I was becoming sick of who I was and determined to go for God - no matter what the cost.  I didn’t even know if I would ever get saved, but I decided that it would still be better to seek and serve God, regardless of the outcome. 

          Bro. Claude preached a message to let God do of His will and good pleasure.  In that message, he said that God would do what was needed to reach me.  He also said that we need to quit trying to figure out how God would choose to save us, and just let God work. He (God) didn’t need my help.

          Another Sunday morning, Bro. Claude preached from Joshua 24 on it’s time to chose who you are going to follow.  I sat in my seat, full of pride, and almost waited too late.  But, finally, I got up and went to the front of the church and stood signifying that I was making it public that I was choosing to follow God regardless of the cost. 

          I found myself doing things that I didn’t even know I was capable of doing.  I just started being obedient to whatever I felt God was asking me to do.  For example, the service before Camp Liberty in February of  2009 at Bro. Terry’s church, Bro. Claude preached on how to get prepared to get to Jesus’ feet.  The last thing he said was, “No bitterness could be in your  heart.”  I am not proud of this, but for twelve or so years I had carried a grudge against Bro. Terry for a simple thing that happened.  Something done out of immaturity and definitely not meaning to offend anyone.  This had kept me from being faithful in going to camp.  That Sunday night, on the way home from church, God told me to call Bro. Terry and make things right, and I did.  We talked and forgave one another and started all over.  God set me free, changed my heart toward Bro. Terry, and I went to camp and got help to continue on.  The problem was me and it kept me from God’s will being done in my life for all those years. 

          On Wednesday night at camp, Bro. Mike Williams preached that supper was ready and the poor, blind, and crippled were invited to come.  Seeing myself in that condition, I went to the altar, but I could not rest or believe that a place was prepared for me at the table.  When that did not work, I tried to be thankful.  That didn’t work either.  I couldn’t understand why others were getting saved and I couldn’t.  I went back to my seat and asked Bro. Claude what was wrong with me.  He told me that I had to stop working and rest in Christ’s finished work.  I went home from camp not getting saved but learning four important truths:  (1) I had to stop working; (2) How to serve others; (3) There was still room at God’s supper table; and (4) God said He would help and strengthen us. 

          The following week, Bro. Greg Moffitt came and preached a meeting for us.  His messages included (1) How we harden our hearts, (2) How to get out of the snare of the devil, (3) We must receive the love of the truth and, the sure mercy of God, (4) Who can have mercy.  He stirred up the sinners by reminding them of the goodness of God. 

          God used that week to draw me closer to Him. I wanted to know and be right with God more than anything the world had to offer.  I saw how I had hardened my heart each time I rejected what God said through the preaching.  I realized how Satan could trap me at his choosing and, by me not trusting Bro. Claude, it left me caught in his snare.  I also learned many other things:  How His Word had not always been important to me causing me to push it aside; how sure the mercy of God is and right in the middle of the passage, a lost boy cried out for God to remember him; how I had to be a guilty sinner to go before God; and how I had taken God’s goodness for granted.   Also, He let me see that when I prayed, I thought God should respond and give me deliverance never realizing that I was an enemy of God and His church, and I didn’t deserve for God to do anything for me.  I had to be willing to lose my life to have His.  I listened to the tapes over and over hoping to see something I had missed.  I asked God many times to let me see myself just as I was, but I just never could see myself as condemned and deserving hell.  I knew by the preaching that it was this way, but for some reason, it just never clicked in me. 

          The next Wednesday night, Bro. Claude preached that we must lay aside everything in our lives that doesn’t match up with God’s ways.  I went to the altar and tried to do that.  After the service, I asked Bro. Claude what I should do while he went to Bro. Reed’s funeral.  He told me to do nothing, but he gave me a book and said to read one page of scriptures about how salvation was provided.  I went home that night and read every one of them.  I didn’t mean to be, but I was working myself into a frenzy, trying to believe and figure everything out.  I had such a hunger for God.  I would go to sleep praying and wake up praying.  I just wanted the turmoil and struggle to come to an end. 

          God was showing me just who I really was.  Other people could see me, but I couldn’t see myself.  He showed me how prideful  I was, how self-righteous, how judgmental, how I wanted God on my terms, and how I was not even a good religious person.  All my props were knocked out and I had nothing left to stand on. 

          I laid down Thursday night with heavy fear in my heart.  I had read in the Book of Hebrews where some people did not enter into rest because of their unbelief.  My unbelief was overwhelming and fear of not getting saved was weighing heavy on me.  That heavy weight remained on me for a few weeks.  My wife had also told me that she had a dream on two occasions that I had passed away, but through everything I had dealt with over the years, God would be faithful to finish the work He started in my life bringing me to Him.

          As far as I knew, Friday morning of February 27, 2009 would be just an ordinary day, but God had different plans.  My wife was asleep in the den.  My son was asleep in his room.  I was expecting a phone call from my plumber concerning a job we were to go look at.  When I awoke, everything seemed normal.  I laid in bed in my “praying mode,” waiting for his call, which came about 7 o’clock.  After talking to him, I laid back down and prayed some more.  I do not have adequate words or a means of explaining everything that happened in those  next few minutes, but here is the rest of my story of God bringing deliverance to my soul. 

          As I was lying on the bed, I suddenly felt an urge to go into my closet.  Not knowing why or really even questioning why, I just got up and went into my closet.  I shut the door and fell on my face and began emptying myself of everything inside of me.  Tears were flowing and I remember asking God to let me feel my guilt and shame, and let me see just who I really was.  At this time, I still had no idea God was anywhere around, especially in my closet.  

          As I was on my face, God let me see Christ for the first time.  He was so real.  I saw myself crucifying Him, spitting on Him, walking all over His blood, mocking Him, hitting Him, laughing at Him, ramming the spear into His side that had the wrath that was reserved for me, and shoving the crown of thorns onto His head. 

          I still don’t know why things happened as they did, but I rolled over and sat on the floor and leaned back against a gun safe that was in the closet.  I decided that I would get up and go back to the bedroom. But as I sat on the floor, I realized that I was in the presence of God.  He was right in front of me.  He was so real, and I knew He was there as my judge.  I don’t know why, but I addressed Him as “Your Honor.”  The feeling that came over me was unexplainable.  I was empty, hopeless,  condemned, guilty, and so helpless.   It was as if I were a dead man, separated from God by my sin, and I knew I was condemned to hell.  At that moment, I felt it was over for me and sentence was pronounced over me.  I was getting exactly what I deserved.  I did not argue with God.  There was nothing I could say.  For the first time in my life, I was before God, a guilty, condemned sinner that deserved no mercy from God.  Then I told God two things:  “It is ok.  Hell is what I deserve, but I’m still going to keep going to church.”  I was so broken and miserable that I actually felt it was over for me.  I had crossed God’s deadline.  I began to call out to God, telling Him that I was sorry for who I was and for my sin and begging Him if there was any way, could I please have just one more chance to make things right.  I told Him, “It was me that put your Son on the cross.” 

          Then, all at once, God let me look back to my left where I had seen Christ a few minutes earlier.  Immediately, from the depths of my heart, three things came from my mouth:  (1) You did that for me, (2) You did that for me, and (3) You saved me.  Everything was happening so fast, but I had believed and rested in the truth that Jesus had died just for me.  I was still sitting on the floor and thanksgiving was erupting from my soul.  I could not sit still and while thanking God and praising Him, I started laughing at the same time.  Everything was so sweet and precious.  None of my other experiences were anything like this. 

          I got up to see what time it was.  I had been in the closet about an hour.  I decided to take a shower.  God had cleaned up the inside, and I wanted to clean up the outside.  My eyes were swollen, and I was very weak.  Still praising God and laughing, that was the best shower I ever had.

          When I got out, I went outside and began to re-live what just happened.  Nothing like this had ever happened to me before.  God began telling me that He invited me into the closet where He was waiting for me.  Had I not gone, I would have missed Him.  He let me see and experience everything that I had asked for.  He let me feel guilt and condemnation.  He also let me see that Jesus did everything He did just for me, and that He did not have to give me mercy. As Bro Greg had preached at our meeting from Psalms 106, verses 4 and 5:  “Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation; that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.”  Then in verse 8, “Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.”  This had been my prayer, and when I asked God for one more chance, He saved me for His name’s sake.  He had everything set up, and I did not have to work at believing or trying to be thankful.  They were just there.  God gave me a joyful laugh and peace in my heart.  Just as the guilt and condemnation became real to me, they were gone just as fast. 

          Saturday morning when I awoke, something was different.  I did not go into my praying mode as before.  God let me know that I was at rest and the struggle was over.

          I had always wondered how it would be to experience real salvation, to meet Jesus in person, and not be talked into another counterfeit experience.  God remembered me and a scripture Bro. Claude gave me on Wednesday night said to me, Jesus became my substitute.  God gave me something real and when I ceased from my works, I found myself at the feet of Jesus with Jesus taking everything I was and giving me everything He is.

          The last time Bro. Greg preached to us at Nettleton, he said the church was dying and if God did not do something, it was over with. Now the building has been vandalized and is falling in.  I asked Bro. Greg what God meant when he told us that God had something special in mind for our church.  His answer to me was, “you” are what God had in mind from the beginning.  God chose to give you life, fulfilling the first promise ever given to me, that being from Habakkuk 2:3, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”  

Thanks to everyone who encouraged and stood with me on my journey.  Special thanks to my wife and son for their love, support, and being my friends.  Special thanks to God’s Ambassadors for being faithful to preach His Word.  Special thanks to Bro. Claude Mills for being my pastor and for telling me what I needed, especially that Christ is my substitute.  Special thanks to my family at Faith Baptist Church, who took me in as a stranger. Most of all, thank you, God, for saving my soul and giving me something real that I did not deserve.  Because of your grace, I am finally free.  Thank you, God!