“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Maintaining a spiritual battery

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16).

The connection with Christ by means of His Spirit is of utmost necessity to every newly born child of God. As we grow in knowing Jesus, we grow in grace. We become more and more established in Him.

“The God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1Pet. 5:10).

We are made reliable, dependable for God’s purpose of representing Himself and His liberating Law of righteousness. His grace becomes a spiritual battery in us, so that our faith is not fleeting, blown down by every temptation or wind of doctrine from the brilliant D.D., Doctor of Deception.

Our spiritual battery is never self-charged. It always needs to be plugged into the higher source of power, higher than the heavens. It needs to be plugged into life, the Source of life, Jesus the Son of God. We are only ever “a living soul” (1Cor. 15:45). He always is and has always been the “quickening Spirit” (1Cor. 15:45). We are the clay; He is the Potter. “We all are the work of Thy hand” (Isa. 64:8), “His workmanship” (Eph. 2:10). He is the good Shepherd, and we the sheep of His pasture.

“His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself.” (Rev. 19:12).

He can give us the life from His Father, He can sanctify us in good works, because He sunk into the lowest hell. He took upon Himself the avalanche of God’s wrath against our detestable, natural, self-righteous sinfulness. Jesus has a name that no one else knows but Himself because no one else but He has passed, or will be called to pass, through the tribulation of damnation that He passed through. He can sing a song that even the 144,000 cannot sing. But having passed through their own ultimate human test, they will sing their own song of victory that synchronizes and harmonizes with His greatest, ultimate test and most glorious song.

“Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” (Heb. 5:8,9).

“Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.” (Ps. 45:7).

His righteousness is solid as a rock. And therefore He rules the Earth with a rod of iron.

“And she brought forth a man Child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her Child was caught up unto God, and to His throne.” (Rev. 12:5).

“And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” (Rev. 19:15).

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” (Dan. 2:44).

His children are made solid by His gift of life, in His righteousness, and in His presence. And as Christ has ruled the nations with a rod of iron, so do they.

“And He that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star.” (Rev. 2:26-28).

“And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” (Rev. 11:5,6).

“I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.” (Ps. 40:1-3).

“Jesus answered and said, …Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto Him, We are able. And He saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.” (Matt. 20:22,23).

We must have a God-gifted faith that doesn’t flee at the troubles of this life, a battery that He recharges every day.

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.…
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” (2Cor. 4:7-10,16).

That battery needs a demand, as Paul stated above. Our faith must be tested constantly. It needs to be worn down, troubled, perplexed, and persecuted. At the end of the day, its charge needs to be near dead, and in great need of recharging. If it is not brought into trying situations, and put under demands for patient endurance, burdened with work, then the safe conditions we create of cloistering up in a monastery of our own devising, constantly receiving a charge without giving a discharge, cause it to cease to be able to be charged. Like all batteries that are not completely discharged before recharging creates in them a “memory”, where the amount of voltage that it can discharge for use remains limited to only the voltage capacity not discharged before recharging, so it is with the faculty of faith.

Let’s take the object lesson from a website, and apply it to spiritual things:

“Memory Effect - What it is and what you can do about it
Almost anyone who uses rechargeable batteries has heard of the memory effect problem. For those who have not heard of this problem it is commonly believed that when rechargeable batteries are not fully discharged between charge cycles that they remember the shortened cycle and are thus reduced in capacity (length of use per charge). This problem was very common with rechargeable batteries several years ago. With improvements in batteries and charging technology this ‘memory effect’ is becoming a thing of the past. [Spiritually, the developments of batteries teach us that the memory effect in our grace used to be worse than it is with the later improvements of the gospel. “But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.” (Heb. 8:6,7). After eons of meek and mild animal sacrifices, when the Son of God came personally, the world now had a meek and lowly God rather than a meek and lowly beast; we saw a lamb-like Man instead of a lamb-like animal. This picture was naturally more promising and more confirming in us because we could see an expression of God’s love more in someone like us and we could trust our repentance to God through a lamb-like Man more than through a lamb-like animal.]

…*Overcharging cells that are near the end of their overall life and their voltage is naturally low. No amount of charging will fix this and the battery needs to be replaced. [It’s an unwelcome truth that every one of us can go so far into the depths of Satan that we can’t come back to God. “But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.” (Rev. 2:24,25). This doctrine referred to delving into spiritualism, which Jesus had said before this. “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” (Rev. 2:20-23).]

*Diminished capacity due to long storage or non-use.  This can sometimes be remedied by a number of deep discharges.  This has been shown to recover 70% or more of the cell’s original capacity.  If the cell has been sitting for too long and the energy has been depleted it may not be possible to recover any capacity. [For all who call upon the Lord Jesus there is mercy. Even if we have been long time away from communion with Him, and then we come to need Him and we pour out our soul to Him, He hears us and saves us again. But, know that more than one deep repentance and deep prayer will be necessary to restore the original openness and freedom that we had with Him before departing from Him to go into the world. We will spend the rest of our life striving to regain what we lost. But, this is good and necessary. In the end, while we will have perfect peace with God when we return to Him with all of our hearts, all that we had in communion before indulging in sin will not be restored. Most of it will return, but not all of it. Initially, only 70% (maybe more) will be restored because our indulgence of sin damaged our conscience and weakened our soul’s yearning for perfect purity. Our fear and distrust of God’s mercy and Christ’s ability to save us to the uttermost prevent the innocent relationship we had before expending our energies on our lusts. But, persistence can close the gap of the old and new spiritual realities, as trust and continued repentance arc over the remaining communion barrier.]

So how can you maximize the use of your rechargeable batteries? Here are a few steps to take to get the most use out of your batteries: [Let’s get practical. If we are spiritually minded we love the practical steps, the actual, helpful tips that can get us to Jesus. But everyone who is carnally minded hates the practical, helpful steps that show the way to Christ, and that expose whether or not we have come to Him and are obedient to Him.]

1. Invest in a good charger. NiMH batteries should not be charged in a NiCad charger, unless the charger is specifically made for both chemistries. There are cheap chargers and there are expensive chargers. Make sure the charger you get has good reviews and is well made. Chargers with micro-controller chips are usually the best choice. [We need the word of God and prayer to recharge us. But, we need the best Bible, which in my opinion is the King James Version. We also need the glasses of the Spirit of Prophecy that help bring out of the Bible the practical points, magnified by the power of 1,000, bringing to our dull spiritual senses truth that is blinding, making us tremble before God and giving us His gift of repentance, as it should be.]

2. When charging your batteries occasionally discharge them fully before recharging them. This is especially helpful to NiCad batteries. Be careful not to discharge too deeply. (Less than 1v per cell for NiCad and NiMH. E.g., a 3.6v pack to no less than 3v.) Discharging to absolute zero will make your battery useless. It’s best if you have a charger with a conditioner that will cycle the battery for you. [We should never go into battle with our sword of the Spirit without our shield of faith and helmet of salvation. The battle is what tests us and drains us, but without the Lord with us, Generaling and guiding us in the fight, we will be ambushed and surrounded by the enemy’s forces, and taken captive. The last erg of faith will drain from us and we will come away weakened beyond repair. But, if we fight with Him, the Spirit of Christ will call us back from the foray, as needed. Even when we think we should stay to push back the enemy, when we think the battle can’t go on without us, the Spirit will refuse our lack of good judgment. He says to us, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31).]

3. Be sure to store your batteries properly. Do not leave your batteries in a hot car, or in humid conditions. The best storage conditions are a cool, dry place. The refrigerator is fine if you stick in a packet of silica gel with your batteries in a sealed bag to keep them dry. It is a good idea to charge your NiCad or NiMH batteries fully before use if they have been in storage. [Faith is precious, not to be treated casually or of the same value as earthly, bodily requirements of life. What does it profit a man if he loses his own soul? What can he give in exchange for his soul? Ellen White’s accompanying angel gave her a green cord and told her to keep it tucked neatly near her heart and to stretch it out often, or it would get all tangled and knotted like tightly curly hair. “My guide now opened the door, and we both passed out. He bade me take up again all the things I had left without. This done, he handed me a green cord coiled up closely. This he directed me to place next my heart, and when I wished to see Jesus, take from my bosom and stretch it to the utmost. He cautioned me not to let it remain coiled for any length of time, lest it should become knotted and difficult to straighten. I placed the cord near my heart and joyfully descended the narrow stairs, praising the Lord and joyfully telling all whom I met where they could find Jesus. This dream gave me hope. The green cord represented faith to my mind, and the beauty and simplicity of trusting in God began to dawn upon my benighted soul.” Early Writings, p. 81. At the end of each day’s testing of faith, and Jesus is close because we have followed in His cross-bearing, we can go to bed and sleep in a deep state. Each night, preferably 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. equivalent to a good 9 hours of sleep (each hour of sleep before midnight is as good as two hours after midnight), our heart and mind can go into a cold, dead, healthful storage, letting the brain and body repair, and allowing the soul to find thoughts and words of scripture/Spirit of Prophecy passing round and round, unobstructed from the wages of sin. The scriptures cleanse our heart and conscience at each pass of truth, and heal all that Satan did to damage them during the previous working day.]

4. Most cordless phones use NiCad batteries. To maximize your cordless phone battery life, make sure to leave your phone off the base every once in a while until it is dead. Then leave it on the base until it is fully charged. You should leave your phone on the base for at least 24 hours to charge it fully. [This again relates to the daily testing and trying of our faith and prayer life. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication of the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” (Eph. 6:18). Then at the end of a week of laboring with souls, we can spend the whole day with Jesus on His Sabbath, fully enjoying His presence because we laid down our lives in labor during the previous week. The weekly 24 hour Sabbath is the perfect high day of celebration after the long, difficult six days of baptisms by fire, laboring for others, and squeezing in nightly nine hour naps before waking and restarting more baptisms by fire.]

There is no need to avoid rechargeable batteries. They can save you significant amounts of money over time. Don’t be scared off by the ‘memory effect’. It is easily manageable if it ever occurs.” [There is always the potential for our faith to be overcharged with this world’s goodies. But there is no need to avoid the redemption that comes with Jesus’ love and acceptance. True, oh so true the warning is, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; while it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” (Heb. 3:12-15). But, even if a spiritual memory effect does sneak up in us, no one is beyond restoration if they will be humbled by Christ’s strong convictions and let the goodness of God lead them to repentance. Christ’s reconciliation and grace and Spirit are ready to re-infuse us if we are ready through the bowing of our proud self-will and the breaking of our rebellious heart. His yoke of humiliation is easy and His full restoration of justification is available. His mercy endureth forever; His gentleness makes us great.]

Without the struggles and demands of life, we can’t fully use the grace that Jesus gives us for the day. By indulging into spiritual slothfulness and indolence, building up the flesh at the expense of the Spirit, we begin the slide into spiritual dearth. “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:34-36).

Thus, our spiritual battery develops a “memory” that keeps it from fully being recharged. Literally speaking, our renewing everyday from above becomes limited by the small work load that we allow Jesus to put us through for our emptying. Our “inward man’s” need for Christ’s renewing grows smaller and smaller. The capacity of our spiritual battery shrinks. The longer we refuse the baptism by fire, those difficulties that challenge our fruits from the Spirit, where “death worketh in us, but life in [others]” (2Cor. 4:12), the more increasingly our faith battery withers, our love capacity for the things of God shrivels up, our muscle of faith atrophies. Dodging the opportunities to sacrifice self and to serve others we are playing dangerously with the devil, as he celebrates with us and entertains us and waltzes us right over to the edge of his bottomless pit.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.…
If a man abide not in Me, He is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:1-3,6).

Accept the baptisms by fire from others all day, and the baptism by water from Jesus every morning. Let us not fear the demands that come with facing a world of sin. Let its waves beat upon our feeble faith. Put your God to the test, and, yes, let Satan try to beat down your battery like he did our Master in the wilderness and in Gethsemane.

“After the foe had departed, Jesus fell exhausted to the earth, with the pallor of death upon His face. The angels of heaven had watched the conflict, beholding their loved Commander as He passed through inexpressible suffering to make a way of escape for us. He had endured the test, greater than we shall ever be called to endure. The angels now ministered to the Son of God as He lay like one dying. He was strengthened with food, comforted with the message of His Father’s love and the assurance that all heaven triumphed in His victory. Warming to life again, His great heart goes out in sympathy for man, and He goes forth to complete the work He has begun; to rest not until the foe is vanquished, and our fallen race redeemed.” Desire of Ages, p. 131.

“Three times has He uttered that prayer. Three times has humanity shrunk from the last, crowning sacrifice. But now the history of the human race comes up before the world’s Redeemer. He sees that the transgressors of the law, if left to themselves, must perish. He sees the helplessness of man. He sees the power of sin. The woes and lamentations of a doomed world rise before Him. He beholds its impending fate, and His decision is made. He will save man at any cost to Himself. He accepts His baptism of blood, that through Him perishing millions may gain everlasting life. He has left the courts of heaven, where all is purity, happiness, and glory, to save the one lost sheep, the one world that has fallen by transgression. And He will not turn from His mission. He will become the propitiation of a race that has willed to sin. His prayer now breathes only submission: ‘If this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.’
     Having made the decision, He fell dying to the ground from which He had partially risen. Where now were His disciples, to place their hands tenderly beneath the head of their fainting Master, and bathe that brow, marred indeed more than the sons of men? The Saviour trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.  
     But God suffered with His Son. Angels beheld the Saviour’s agony. They saw their Lord enclosed by legions of satanic forces, His nature weighed down with a shuddering, mysterious dread. There was silence in heaven. No harp was touched. Could mortals have viewed the amazement of the angelic host as in silent grief they watched the Father separating His beams of light, love, and glory from His beloved Son, they would better understand how offensive in His sight is sin.  
     The worlds unfallen and the heavenly angels had watched with intense interest as the conflict drew to its close. Satan and his confederacy of evil, the legions of apostasy, watched intently this great crisis in the work of redemption. The powers of good and evil waited to see what answer would come to Christ’s thrice-repeated prayer. Angels had longed to bring relief to the divine sufferer, but this might not be. No way of escape was found for the Son of God. In this awful crisis, when everything was at stake, when the mysterious cup trembled in the hand of the sufferer, the heavens opened, a light shone forth amid the stormy darkness of the crisis hour, and the mighty angel who stands in God’s presence, occupying the position from which Satan fell, came to the side of Christ. The angel came not to take the cup from Christ’s hand, but to strengthen Him to drink it, with the assurance of the Father’s love. He came to give power to the divine-human suppliant. He pointed Him to the open heavens, telling Him of the souls that would be saved as the result of His sufferings. He assured Him that His Father is greater and more powerful than Satan, that His death would result in the utter discomfiture of Satan, and that the kingdom of this world would be given to the saints of the Most High. He told Him that He would see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied, for He would see a multitude of the human race saved, eternally saved.” Desire of Ages, p. 690-693.

But all who evaded the previous demands, all who denied the golden opportunities provided by the imagined death-like drains by frightful baptisms of fire, will come up to this last test unprepared and unfit for eternity. Their untested faith will disappear forever like the dew before the hot morning Star.

“O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.” (Hos. 6:4).

“The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” (Ps. 1:4-6).

Will we follow our Master “whithersoever He goeth” (Rev. 14:4), even into our own Gethsemane? Will we have the tested faith and grounded grace that will help us in time of need?

Make sure of Jesus’ love first thing every morning, and then let life drain you again together with your Master in your wilderness, only to be strengthened by His heavenly agencies, and warmed back to life again. Over and over again, this process will cleanse us and prepare us for the ultimate demand. It will be our own Gethsemane, when the coming time of trouble such as never was will try the charge of our faith battery to the max. All the previous demands and drains will prepare for the finale demand—the sealing.

“Great power was with these chosen ones. Said the angel, ‘Look ye!’ My attention was turned to the wicked, or unbelievers. They were all astir. The zeal and power with the people of God had aroused and enraged them. Confusion, confusion, was on every side. I saw measures taken against the company who had the light and power of God. Darkness thickened around them; yet they stood firm, approved of God, and trusting in Him. I saw them perplexed; next I heard them crying unto God earnestly. Day and night their cry ceased not: ‘Thy will, O God, be done! If it can glorify Thy name, make a way of escape for Thy people! Deliver us from the heathen around about us. They have appointed us unto death; but Thine arm can bring salvation.’ These are all the words which I can bring to mind. All seemed to have a deep sense of their unworthiness and manifested entire submission to the will of God; yet, like Jacob, every one, without an exception, was earnestly pleading and wrestling for deliverance.   
     Soon after they had commenced their earnest cry, the angels, in sympathy, desired to go to their deliverance. But a tall, commanding angel suffered them not. He said, ‘The will of God is not yet fulfilled. They must drink of the cup. They must be baptized with the baptism.’” Early Writings, p. 272.   

“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:33-39).

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:18).              

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Angela's testimony

“Hello, my name is Angela. And this is a portion of my testimony. I was raised in the Baptist church by my grandfather. I said the sinner’s prayer at age 11. My cousin had drug me up front, so I just went along. I was then baptized. I had attended that church for 16 ½ years. I was there 3 times a week.  I loved going. I always enjoyed going to church. I looked forward to it. It was the only place I found peace or any kind of happiness in my life.

At age 17 I stopped going. I had a lot of wickedness in my life, and it became worse. And I just really dove in full throttle, basically. Fast forward to the age of 23, 24, I had a child out of wedlock. I was a mess; her father was a mess. We were living together. And so we just proceeded on with life that way, as we knew it.

So years, several years down the road life was very chaotic. And I had no peace and no happiness. So the only thing I knew to do was to go back to the only place that I ever had peace, or any kind of happiness. And that was church. So I sought out a church that was just not too far from us. It was a non-denominational church. So I went. I remember pulling into the parking lot and telling God that if nobody ever said, ‘Hello’ to me that I would never go back again. And of course 3 people did; and at that moment that was irritating to me.

So I did keep going. And I met a few ladies and became friends with them. I had spoke with the pastor and told him I had said the sinner’s prayer at age 11, and had been baptized. So he told me that I was just rededicating my life back to the Lord. And I was then baptized again.

And I believed it because I thought since I had said the sinner’s prayer at age 11, that that meant I was saved. I went to all the Bible studies that they had there. I was there every service. Then a day came, and 2 of the gals came over to my home, and told me that I needed to leave my daughter’s father, and that I was unequally yoked. And they showed me the scripture. I knew nothing about that. So I spoke to the pastor, and he said, ‘Yes. That’s true. You do need to leave.’ So I did. I explained to her dad, we weren’t married. We were living in sin. And I was just repeating what they [the church] were telling me.

So, he wasn’t going to have any of it. But I did leave. For a while I had some peace in my life. And, looking back,  I believe its because I was not living in sin. But, other than that the only thing that had changed in my life at that time was I had stopped cussing. And in comparison to some of the gals that I had met at that church, there was no difference in my life compared to theirs. Never, when I was at home, never did I have a desire to read my Bible. I never had a desire to be in prayer. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t even pray. I would go to some prayer groups. And everybody would pray, except for me. I couldn’t do it, and I didn’t know why. So I started asking different people, basically what was wrong with me. And I would be told, ‘You’re just new in your walk. And it takes time to overcome.’ And I know now that those things are true. And then I was instructed by the pastor to attend some Christian counseling. So I did that. And still nothing changed. They, you know, for the most part, gave me truth. They all believed that I was saved. I kept questioning; but then finally I was thoroughly convinced that I was saved because they all thought I was saved.

So, I continued on with that church for a while. Then I switched and went to a Pentecostal Charismatic church. There I had met a gal, and there was something about her that was so different than everybody else. And I wanted what she had. But I couldn’t put my finger on it. So I had become friends with her, and was attending the Charismatic church. And I started then questioning people there, you know, what was wrong with me. And I had spoke with the pastor at that church. And had told him, ‘I had said the sinner’s prayer at age 11, that at the previous church, I was told I rededicated my life back to the Lord. I was baptized.’ So this particular pastor said, ‘Well, you are rededicating your life back to the Lord again.’ And I was then baptized in that church.

I then continued on. I went to all the services and I learned some more things. Each church I went to I learned some; I had some head knowledge to some degree. Anyway, I still was struggling. Nothing was changing; absolutely nothing. And things seemed on the outside to be better. But on the inside it wasn’t. There was no desire for anything. I just kind of went and followed the masses. But as I was questioning some of the people in that church, they had told me that it’s because I had not been baptized in the Holy Spirit. And I did not have the gift of tongues, which that was all new to me.

So, they had prayed for me. Nothing happened. They told me to have faith, and I’d receive it. With my head I tried really hard to have that faith. It did not happen. They had said that if I had had that [faith] that I would have all the power to overcome all the sin in my life. So that was a bit discouraging. I ended up doing some counseling there at that church, although there was one lady [Amy] in all the years that I went to the three churches, there was only one lady that came up to me during a service, and said to me, ‘Do you know Jesus?’ And I was very offended when she asked me that question. I was very full of pride, looking back, and I realize that now how full of pride I was. But I was severely offended by her question. And I looked at her, and I said to her, ‘Well, I know Amy.’ I guess in my mind, because I knew Amy to be a true woman of God, that since I was her friend, and I honestly believed that I was saved, that of course, I know Jesus. So that was my answer to her, which was very idiotic, looking back, and just how ignorant I was with the whole thing. So she let me be.

The speaking in tongues did strike my curiosity. So, I did look that up. I did open my Bible to look that up. And what I did find was that nothing in scripture lined up with how it was being practiced, in that particular church. Everything was very chaotic. All over the map. There was just a bunch of chaos and bunch of hype. And things were not in order, according to what the scripture had said. But I didn’t question anybody on that. And looking back now, it makes me wonder why I never even looked up the scriptures about salvation.

In those two churches in my adult life, all of the messages were inspirational, which was different for me. It did give you a ‘feel good’ feeling. But it was very different because it was very different from the Baptist church. The music was different. That was the other thing that I started feeling uneasy about, was at this charismatic church, the praise and worship was more like a rock concert. I attended enough rock and roll concerts in my days that nothing about that seemed any different at all. And people just running around doing weird things. So that bothered me some.

So as time went on I just grew very tired of the women running around half naked. Nobody seemed to have a problem with that. Looking back now that’s how I see it. Who was I to judge, especially at that time? But, no one seemed to be bothered by that. Now I, on one hand, didn’t run around dressed that way, being raised in the Baptist church, and just the family that I have, the women always dressed very modest. You did not, I wasn’t raised that way by my grandparents, none of my aunts, none of my family, they don’t dress that way to this day. Even though they are not believers, it’s just not something that was ever accepted.

So, the pastor was embezzling money; I still had so many questions, I was going nowhere fast, and I just realized one day--and this may sound very judgmental, and it probably is--is that I just looked around and thought, ‘These people can’t help me. They need help themselves, and they cannot help me.’

So, I left the church. And it’s been almost 10 years since I’ve been out of the church. And probably about 5, 6 months ago, I started watching music videos on YouTube. And I came across 2 different channels. One was ‘Erika’s’ and one was ‘the Bullet of truth’. And there was something about their words, and I was hooked right from the beginning. And the messages they were giving. And so I would watch them and watch them and watch them, and watch them. And every chance I had I would watch their videos. And I started looking up the scriptures, and I started paying more attention. And when I look back now I realize something was stirring because I started to question things about myself and what they were saying. And I started asking myself, ‘Am I truly saved? Am I truly born again? If I am, how could I have lived this wicked life, 20 years in the church looking no different that anybody else in the world, and do the things that I have done and lived the life that I have lived, if I was truly born again, if I had real salvation.’

So I continued listening to their videos, I reached out to both of them. They both responded back to me, and I went on with that. I kept listening, and all the sudden the blinders fell off and I realized that I was not born again. I was a false convert, and I didn’t even know that term. But I know it now.

And the day the blinders fell off I was at work, and I couldn’t wait to get home and get into my room and get alone with God. And so I cried out to Him, and it wasn’t thoughts in my head. It wasn’t a feeling. God met me in my bedroom. And it was from my gut [deep repentance]; and the grief and the joy, all at the same time. And something changed in me at that moment, instantly. And there was a heart change. And God had showed me that all these years I had always gone to man for the answers. I had never inquired of Him. And also that He had been waiting there the whole time for me. And I was completely deceived. He just showed me how deceived I was and how [deluded] I was, and how much I love sin. And also that I did know the way to salvation, but I always looked at it outwardly for everyone else. I never personalized it for myself.

And it’s just ironic to me that God used YouTube, two people that were very instrumental. I thank God for willing vessels still in today’s age, in this wicked world that we live in. And I will be eternally grateful. But it is ironic that God used YouTube [instead of the pulpit]. That still kind of cracks me up, but I am very thankful. And the thing is; now I have a desire to be obedient. I have a desire and a yearning to be in His word, and to be in prayer. I know what real conviction feels like, and I know what it feels like to deny the flesh. And that’s something I had never experienced before either. And I know now who my Deliverer is, where my help comes from, who my Healer is, where my peace comes from, where my comfort comes from. [God is] the only one that I can trust in. There’s never been anybody on this earth, or in my life, and never will be, that can ever compare. He’ll never let me down, and He will always be there.

And so, that’s my testimony, and I’m at the beginning of my journey, but I am so glad that God is longsuffering, and He is patient and merciful. So that is it. Thanks, guys. And be blessed.”

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Christ finds another honest, but dead, soul inside the church body

“What woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:8).

Here is Charo’s testimony, I have transcribed it below for clarity.

“I guess I can only start by saying what I’ve come up here to say to you, and that is, that while I was … (Charo choking up)… while I was in Texas, the Lord saved me, and… (Charo choking up)…. And I just want to give Him thanks and the glory for that. I know it’s a shock for most, it’s been a shock for a lot of my friends. And I guess, after saying that, I have to give you a little bit of a background before I [come] back to this [to say even more].

When I was 14 years old I attended a Christian school, and I was asked if I wanted to have Jesus in my heart. And of course I raised my hand, because in our school if you didn’t raise your hand, you were going to be brought up forward, somehow. So I raised my hand, and of course, you know, in those days no one [didn’t raise] their hand because [no one] wanted to go to Hell, willingly at least. And so, yeah, you wanted to love Jesus, and you wanted to be good, and you wanted to do good things.

I grew up in a moral home, like, I guess, most of us, and my parents taught me right from wrong. So, going to this school was neat. You know, it was just, let’s read about the Lord, and learn Bible stories. And I simply prayed a prayer when I was 14, [but] I didn’t have any form of repentance in my heart. I didn’t have any hurt in my heart for sin. I didn’t have any, any pain for what I had done.

I mean, I was 14, I was not a ‘bad kid’ by any means. I hadn’t done anything ‘bad,’ you know, by the standards of the world. Because, you know, sometimes people put sizes to sins, and colors, almost like [it’s a] joke. [But] there wasn’t any [repentance]. It was, ‘Yeah, sure I want Jesus.’ Just like, ‘Why not?’ And I remember just thinking, ‘Great’, you know, I had a lot of good friends, and mostly I just hung around with missionary kids, and my friends were Christians, and so it was easy to dress like a Christian, it was easy to look like a Christian, it was easy to go to church. That’s what all the kids did. I pretty much did what all the kids did, and that’s what we all did. We didn’t go drinking, or doing this [bad thing] or doing that [bad thing] because nobody [around us] did. And so, so to speak, it was pretty easy for me to fit in that mold.

Eventually, you know, I guess I compare that to the camp—the youth camp syndrome.  You know everybody [is] all hyped up about [living a good life for Jesus]. ‘Oh, let’s all go do it.’ [That] wasn’t necessarily bad, but it was just doing things, it was just being nice, being a ‘good person’. And when I was 16, I felt that God was calling me to missions, to serve Him. Like a lot of the kids at youth camp, you know, you’d throw your little stick, and [say}, ‘God has called me.’ And, yeah, a lot of us felt like God was calling us. Well, a lot of them are not even in church anymore, you know. And here I am. But, you know, at 32[, it took me many any years later before I would] come to know the Lord.

And it’s amazing how it was just truly God in all of this. Because I would be active in church, I would read—well, I wouldn’t say [I was] reading the Bible, but—in our church we weren’t really taught how to read the Word, how to study the Word. So the youth would always, you know, we would talk amongst ourselves and things, ‘Are you reading the Word?’ And we were like, ‘Yeah.’ ‘Well how do you do it?’ ‘Well, you just take the Word like this, and you flip [through] it like this, and wherever you put your finger, that’s where God wants you to read that day.’ So I thought, ‘Oh, ok.’

So that’s what we did! We had no earthly idea [how to learn of God’s will from the Bible]. We had no discipleship whatsoever, as far as knowledge of good as God sees [sin], knowledge of wrong as God sees it. [Righteousness is not what you think, or even what your parents think about—but [what] the Word of God [says].

So I just grew up in my own imagination of what was right and wrong, or just catching a little here and there from preaching. It wasn’t true desire to read the Word. That was another thing that was lacking in my life. And at 20 years old, I marry a missionary. And I did have a love for missions. I had a love for people, and I wanted to evangelize. I had evangelized some people, I had witnessed. And, I guess that the only explanation [for being able to win people to Christ without me knowing Him] is that God can speak through a mule. He can speak through anyone.

And some well-meaning friends that I told this to—what just recently happened [(my conversion)], they were like, ‘Well it’s not that you were not saved. It’s just that, you know, sometimes we kind of grow cold in our love for God. But it’s not [lack of conversion], because I mean, look at you, you’ve been a missionary for 12 years.’

And I’m thinking, for a minute. I was like, ‘Wait a minute’, you know, ‘I live here [in my body and mind]. I know what happened here. Salvation is not, it’s not [all about] what I’ve done, because then you’re saying that it’s all [salvation by] works. [Like] I’ve earned my way to heaven, or something. Or is it that…, you know, then you’re saying that a lot of people who have done good works have made it to heaven that way [by their good works]. [But, my experience was] not that. I know that I’ve been empty [of Christ and His presence] for years.’

And it [seemed] almost like I’m doing the right thing. Yeah, I go and do this [good thing], I go and do that [good thing]. But there’s no zeal; there’s no heart; there’s no desire to read the Word. It’s almost like, ‘Check, I’ve got to do that,’ you know, like your devotions. Because, ‘Check’, you do this, ‘Check,’ you do that. That’s what ‘good people’ do.

You know, and all of a sudden it’s like God was confronting me as years would go by with the fact that I was rusting out because ‘good people’ can [only] do so much. And [then], all of a sudden they’re at the end of the rope. [But, for the moral person doing good is] not natural. Like, for a Christian it’s natural to love someone. Or, to desire to witness to someone, or to—just to want the Word. When you get up [in the morning] and you think, ‘If I don’t read the Word of God, I’m just going to be just a mess today.’ Or, [If you don’t read the Word of God] all of a sudden you feel a void in your heart.

Like I do now, for example. [Before] it was a thing of, ‘Well, I haven’t done that’. ‘I need to, I need to.’ It wasn’t [like now], ‘I want to, I desire to.’

Or, even praying, you know, before I would [say]—‘I’ll pray for my dad to be saved. I’ve got to pray for my grandparents to be saved.’ It was this, ‘Check, check, check’ [from] a list of to-do. It wasn’t a desire. There wasn’t a Spirit[-implanted] desire in me. It was just my to-do list.

Another thing I realized was there was no power in my life to overcome sin. I would see things in my heart that were wrong. [I would] see things in my life that were wrong, and [I would] just go, ‘Man I just need to get a grip and do this. I just need to buckle [down] and do this [right thing], or stop doing this [wrong thing].’ And I would just beat myself up all the time, ‘I cannot overcome this in my life. Why am I having so much trouble with this?’ And I would see other Christians that I knew, and think, ‘Yeah, they have problems, but it’s almost like… they overcome. Why is it that I am stuck on this one thing, or on this other thing? Why is it hard for me to forgive? Why is it hard for me to stop doing this, or not do this, or whatever? Why is it so hard?’

And I’m not painting a picture of a Christian that is, you know, walking on a cloud, that doesn’t have problems. But there is that power to overcome, and I could not see in my life that [overcoming power]. [My life] was just struggle, and struggle. And I felt like I was getting worse, that I was just even struggling to appear…to appear godly. And I’m thinking, ‘A Christian does not have to struggle for that.’ I mean, at least I knew enough from preaching and years of, you know, at least hearing my husband, and hearing other preachers.

You know, and other things, I would wander when preaching was going on, I would just—my mind would be on the grocery list. It was like my mind was somewhere, it was always wandering. And I would, if I saw some [reproof] that applied to my life, I would just think, ‘Well, it’s just that [I] …blah, blah, blah, blah, blah’—you know, excuse after excuse. Or, even the fact that I would think, ‘Oh, that person can do that. But that’s because they are emotional, [and] I’m just not an emotional type of person.’  You know, ‘They cry and they go to the altar. But well, I’m just not that kind of person.’ It was always an excuse for [continuing] my [old] ways. It was always, ‘Well, so-and-so is ministering. Oh, that’s because she wanted to be nice [just] to show off.’ [Reproof] wasn’t anything about me; I always had an excuse for what was going on in my heart, to make me feel better. But that wasn’t even working anymore. [My focus began to change.] It wasn’t about anyone else. It wasn’t about what so-and-so was doing [or] what so-and-so wasn’t doing. It was on my heart.

And I remember hearing Paul, and even here in Texas when he was preaching, he had been preaching on, ‘How do you know if you’re a Christian?’ And every time he preached that, I would squirm in my seat, because it was like, ‘How do I just go through this test and feel okay at the end?’ Because every time, [listening to each testing point in his sermons] would just make me cringe. It’s like, ‘I’m not passing. And if I’m passing, I’m barely passing.’

And all of a sudden I’m thinking, ‘Wait a minute. You either do pass these tests of 1 John, or you don’t. You don’t barely make it like you’re barely making a [school grade of] D. You know, you pass because there is Some… Someone in your life that has, you know, carried you through this.’ It’s not this, ‘Oh, you know, am I—well [I’m like this because]… It’s not [self-justifications]. It’s not that I don’t love someone; it’s not that. It’s not that I don’t love someone; it’s just that, well, we just don’t get along. It’s not hate, it’s this [other thing].’

Or, ‘It’s not that I love the world, it’s just that, I mean, everybody likes to shop.’ It was just crazy little things that I could always excuse. It wasn’t ever a hard look at my sin. And God—and I could feel that God was saying a lot of times, you know, ‘You need to get alone and think about this. You need to think about this.’ And I was like, ‘Oh not, I’m just, I don’t know….. PMS-ing, maybe that’s what it is’. [Or] I said, ‘I’m just having a bad day. It’s not that I’m not a Christian.’ I had to run from that. And all of a sudden it was like, ‘I’m putting off something that could mean, you know, eternity for myself, and I can’t do that any more.’

When we were in San Antonio, Paul had to preach there, and he had been preaching again on [‘How do you know if you’re a Christian?’]. And oh, I just would totally squirm in my seat, and think, ‘I can’t—I’m not, I’m not a Christian.’ I mean, I finally had to admit it to myself, ‘I am not a Christian. I cannot struggle so much, and just literally have no life, no desire to do this.’ I had to just make myself [be good]. I mean even in Peru, when I as a missionary. You know, I guess at the beginning stages of mission work, and everything is pretty, and everything is nice, and you get along with people, and everything goes good…. But when those things start to wear out, then you really see if you’re there because of God, or if you’re there because you’re doing ‘the right thing’. And I came here and, Oh man! I had such a struggle when I came here. I didn’t want to be here, didn’t want to be in the States. I wanted to go back to Peru. And I thought, ‘Well, I’m just not ministering because…. Because of this and because of that [selfish motive]’, and…. Excuses.

And eventually, it was like God said, ‘No, it’s not about the place. It’s not about someone. It’s not about this. It’s not about anything, but you. It’s about your heart. It’s about the fact that there’s nothing in your heart.’

And it was a very, very hard look when we were in San Antonio. Like I was saying [at the beginning of this talk].… We were sitting outside, there was a tent, because the church is too small and it was hot. And there was a prostitute going up and down the road… (Charo choking up)…. And I remember looking at her, (Charo choking up) thinking, ‘I’m no better than her!’ (Charo choking up) I mean someone can see, can take a look at her and see ‘Oh my gosh,’ you know, ‘she’s a prostitute.’ And you know exactly what’s wrong with her. You can see [the sin]; it’s just in your face. (Charo choking up) and all these people sitting around me don’t have a clue (Charo choking up), and have no idea [that I’m no better than her]. It’s so easy to look pretty and ‘churchy’, and to wear a long skirt, and to not wear this kind of thing that will give you away. But the heart—God can see the heart. And I had, I mean I had done, I guess, all the gymnastics I could possibly do to even appear godly at that point. And it was wearing [off]. I mean, I could see all of a sudden, ‘I am no better than that woman at this moment, and nobody can see that.’

And God could. And at least God opened my eyes at that point. I literally wanted to run out of there screaming. I was like, if I hear another sermon, I am just going to blow up and die, or something. ‘I just know, I know. It’s like I know I’m not a Christian. And it’s not about what I do, because no one can tell. It’s not about anything else. [It’s] my heart, and You can see my heart. And it was just such an awesome thing, and it was a freeing thing because first I thought, ‘Okay, if I admit that I’m not a Christian, then, Oh man, you know, [everyone would say,] “What a testimony! The preacher’s wife has not been a Christian for 12 years, or plus, or whatever, more. That’s pitiful.”’

And here I was struggling with all that stuff. And [finally] I’m like, ‘You know, I don’t care. Someone’s going to get mad at me because I’m not really wanting to go to Hell willingly? OK.’ And it was really something.

Another way that God showed me that I really wasn’t a Christian: I was becoming so critical. Even in my own heart, I was becoming so hardened. And first, you know—it’s so wild—I used to think, ‘Well it’s because of this’, [or] ‘because of that.’ You have no idea, I guess, the ways in which your own heart will even deceive you. When you want to give yourself peace, you will try and try and try and try to tell yourself every possible thing you can. But when there’s no peace, there’s no peace. And if you belong to the Lord [I knew] there is peace. I mean there can be struggles, and there can be trials, there can be things, but there is peace at some point. And [for the real Christian] there’s an end to [struggles]. And there wasn’t one for me.

I told this to Paul—because I hadn’t told him, and… I hadn’t told him I had been struggling with this for about 3 years. We were driving back from a little thing that we went to do with Ian, and Paul was sitting there and he said, ‘You know, I don’t know what’s going to happen with our lives, I mean I don’t know why the Lord has us here in Texas or anything, but all I delight in is just being in God’s will.’ And I literally wanted to jump out of the car. I was like, I was like, I cannot even, I cannot even hear His name without just feeling like, ‘I am in deep trouble here. I am not delighting in anything. I am in real trouble.’ And I think—and I told [Paul], I said, ‘OK, here goes.’ I told him, everything. I said, ‘I really feel like I don’t know God.’ And I told him everything. And he just listened and he said, ‘You know, from what you’ve told me, I cannot tell you that you are a Christian.’

[Here comes the greatest evidence of a contrite sinner, and a soon to be justified saint!] And that’s the only thing I needed to hear. It’s almost like, if someone would have just told me that at some point [a long time ago]. I guess if I had shared that with someone… just to hear that was enough. It’s like, Thank you, I needed to hear that, I needed to have someone else say, “Yes, on the basis of what you’re telling me, I can’t tell you you’re a Christian, because, yeah, what you’re saying is pretty evident that that’s what’s in your heart”’.

And we got home that night, and I just sat there and read the book of 1 John. And I started going through each verse. And I just saw one thing. It’s so amazing, the book of 1 John, because it’s not like, you know those crazy magazine quizzes that you take: ‘Are you a friendly person?’ you know, ‘If you score from 1 to 10, well you need to work on your personal people skills.’ ‘If you score from 10 to 20, well, sort of, and then, you know…. Or yeah, you’re the greatest, you’re the friendliest person in the world.’ It’s not a thing of score, you know, it’s a thing of if you’re failing at one of those tests, it overflows to the rest of your life. If you are loving the world, it’s going to overflow to the other areas of your life.  If you’re hating someone, it’s going to overflow to the other areas of your life. If you acknowledge God with your mouth, and you deny Him with the rest of your being, then it’s all going to overflow, and it’s going to be evidence that you’re not a Christian. And it was so amazing, after that, I just confessed. It’s like, ‘God, I have never known that I am a sinner until now.’ I mean, yeah, I’ve said it, you know, ‘You’re a sinner, I’m a sinner, everybody’s a sinner.’ But, you know, I’ve never been—it’s never been so specific in my life. I’ve never had it this close to my face.’ So it’s been a generality, you know, ‘We’re all bad.’ But when it comes down to pointing out the specifics of your life, and when God is the one that does it, it’s a whole different story. And I just prayed that night, and I was just like, ‘God, I really… I am at the end of my rope; I really don’t know how to be better, because I can’t be better. I don’t know how to do any of this, I can’t, I don’t have the power, I don’t have the desire to do it.’

That was the hardest thing, it’s like, ‘God, I have no desire, and even if I go ahead and do it, and someone can see me and goes, “Oh, that’s really nice, what she did.” It’s like, God, there’s no desire in me, there’s just nothing! It’s like I’m dead.’ And that night, I just cried out before the Lord, and said, ‘God, save me, I’ve never seen myself as a sinner like I’m seeing myself now.’ It [used to be] like, ‘Oh yeah, sure I want to go to heaven.’ But, [after I confessed to my sinfulness] it was [not] about that. It was all about God. It’s amazing how He’s taken 12 years of allowing me to be a part of the ministry, and everything else, and all of a sudden opening my eyes and showing me who I really was. And I just praise Him and thank Him for that, and just wanted to share that with all of you.

Beautiful conviction! Beautiful repentance! Beautiful confession! Beautiful righteousness by faith! No doubt, there was rejoicing in Jesus and in all of His fellows!

Sunday, July 01, 2018

The testimony of Mason Vann, and God’s work outside the sinner’s prayer

Psalm 105:5 says, “Remember His wonders which He has done.” So it is a good thing for us to remember and to think about what God has done in our life.

I grew up in a home where my family took me to church basically every time the doors were open. So the reality of God was in my life from infancy upward. There was never really a time in my life where my parents didn’t make me go to church. Through that time, there was conviction of sin. There were times especially where revivalists would come through and I would have an emotional experience. And I would realize the reality of hell. Kind of realize where I was at. So I would walk an aisle, pray a prayer, and make a decision that never seemed to really last.

I actually, you know, people make jokes about this, but I actually believe that at my house in Alabama, there are at least two Bibles where I have, ‘I, Mason Vann, was saved….’, and the date, and signed it, so that I wouldn’t doubt it. So that’s a reality. That’s not just a joke that people make. I have at least a couple of those. So that’s kind of the realm in which I grew up. And I can remember the final time in that period of my life that I kind of came under conviction. A revivalist had come through, and made a very emotional appeal, and yet God was dealing with me on a certain level.

And so that thought came over me that ‘I am not right with God. And I need to be right with God. And that every profession that I had made up until now was not real’, and I needed something that was real. So I went forward once again, and this time I decided, this time is going to be real. I am really going to make an effort this time to be a Christian.

And so I think I printed it again in the back of my Bible that I was saved on this date. So I started diligently trying to read my Bible. You know, one of the times before that I had come under such intense conviction of sin, that I went downstairs in the basement and went into a corner and just, I sobbed for hours. As a matter of fact, my father came down there and asked me what was going on. So that’s kind of the reality of the level of conviction that I was under.

But, this time it was going to be different. So I set to reading the Bible and praying the best that I could. Every night I would light a candle, turn off all my lights, and I would light a candle by my bed, so that I would read my Bible by candlelight, because that felt more spiritual. You know, that a funny thing, but it really helps us to realize what’s going on with a lot of things like Catholicism, and people that use lighting and, you know, soft music and things like that. My life was propped up on things like reading my Bible by candlelight. It gave me the feeling that this was real. But, as soon as the candle went out, there went my spiritual life also.

Well, this began to fade. And this is about 12 or 13, and I was very much into baseball, sports and athletics and things like that. My father is actually in the Hall of Fame in a college in Alabama. So he was really pushing sports and things. So I was heavily involved in these things, and began to run around in these circles with people that were into sports. And we as a crowd began to kind of move away from all that we had grown up under. And we began to get into things that we knew that we should not be doing.

And so, I kind of, in my mind, walked away from the whole church scene. Even though I was still going to church and things like that, I knew that I wasn’t real. But I kept going to church because I was trying to ease my conscience.

Well, about 14 and a half, this conviction came back. And it came back with such reality, such an unshakable hold on my life, I could not do anything to get away from it. During that time, most people’s perception of me was that I was a tough guy. I was a guy who had very little emotion. I had a very quick temper. So most people thought of me, probably, as a person who would never show any kind of sorrow or remorse, or anything like that. Well, little did they know that every night when I came home from their parties, and I came home from hanging out with them, that I would cry my eyes out for about one to two hours each night, under the reality that I am not right with God. My profession of faith is worthless. Those Bibles with the date in them are worthless. Despite everything else around me, I am not right with Christ. And if I go tonight, I will die under the wrath of God.

So, every night it was basically the same routine. I would cry myself to sleep. And right before I would go to sleep, I would pray the sinner’s prayer again, because that is what I was taught growing up. That’s how you became a Christian. You prayed the sinner’s prayer. And so this continued for about two years that I was in this state of reality and such intense conviction.

Well, my temper ended up getting me in trouble. And without going into too many gory details, I got into a fight with a guy from a neighboring city. All my friends were supposed to come to this fight, and I was clearly smaller than this guy, and so the plan was that basically I start the fight, and then you guys come and help me.

Well, that is not how the plan worked out. God was pursuing me. And God providentially, looking back now as a Christian I can see, God was closing in on me at this point in my life. And so, needless to say, I lose this fight. And I am running for my life. Literally, I am running for my life. And for two weeks, I’m hiding out from everyone. And all these people are looking for me.

Well, providentially, the youth group at the church I went to was going to South Carolina. The year before, I had went with my friend to South Carolina. We met some people up there. So I thought, I have to get out of town. I have to get out of town. So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll catch the bus up there. And my friend and I will hang out with these people, and when the youth group comes back, we’ll catch a ride on the way back. And so that was the plan.

So you should have seen the shock on the youth group’s face, when I, the pagan of the school, show up on the bus, the church bus, going to South Carolina! I mean, these people were dumbfounded! A dear brother at the time, who had some discernment, he began to pray for me. He was the youth leader at that time, and he began to pray for me. He knew that I was just in a world of mess.

So we go up there. And throughout this time, and especially through those two weeks, I had been able to, so much of my life, drowned out the voice of God. See, I hated, I hated when I had to lay my head down on a pillow. Because then the voice of God would come rushing back. So if I wasn’t listening to music, I was at a party. If I wasn’t at a party I was talking to a friend. If I wasn’t talking to a friend, I was doing something. I would do absolutely anything to avoid silence. Because when silence came, the voice of God came back rushing into my life saying, ‘You’re not right with God. You know you need to be converted.’

So, this whole thing with this fight, and my support system for drowning out the voice of God with my friends, all came crumbling down, and here I find myself on a trip to South Carolina.

During that time in South Carolina, I don’t really have any recollection that I was making another decision that I was going to follow Christ. I did not go up there with the mindset that I’m really in trouble and I need to make another decision. I had already seen enough at that point to know that it was going to take more than me just praying another prayer [in order] for something real to happen.

And so, the first two days were pretty normal. I don’t even really remember much about them. About the only thing that I remember is the very last night before we were to leave and go back the next day. It seemed to be a really emotional time. And I can remember a little bit that day of thinking about some of these things, I’m not right with God, I need to be right with God, but I feel absolutely powerless.

And so during that night, you know like I said, typical emotional time, everyone bowed their heads. So, out of courtesy, I bowed my head. And I do remember thinking when I bowed my head, I need something real. I can’t explain what happened. But somewhere between the time of bowing my head and when I looked up and opened my eyes again, the only thing that I could see was the glory of God in the face of Christ.

All of the sudden, the wilderness had become a pool. And the love of God came rushing into my life and overwhelmed me! I could not be helped! The youth leaders didn’t know what to do! Because I was crying my eyes out. I had such an overwhelming sense that, that I’m free! I am free. This whole thing, the whole burden of sin, two years of the wrath of God closing down on me, all of my sins, are gone. And Christ is no longer this religious figure that’s way back there 2,000 years ago carrying lambs around on His shoulders. All of the sudden He is the risen Son of God, and I love Him. And I want to follow Him. I don’t ever want to sin again. I don’t ever want to do anything love that is this precious. And so that was that night.

They wisely sent me back to my room and said, ‘You need to pray. I misunderstood that because I had grown up under the mentality that you had to pray and ask Christ into your heart. And so I go back to my hotel room once I can kind of compose myself some. And I began to try to pray the sinner’s prayer. But I was much like the prodigal son when he returned to his father.

You know, on the way returning back, he had rehearsed this speech that he was going to give to his father when he got back. Basically what happens is, when the prodigal actually shows up, the father cuts him off halfway through the speech and says, ‘I don’t want to hear all that you can do for me. I’m glad you’re home.’

And so that’s the way I felt like praying the sinner’s prayer! It’s like I’m asking Christ to come into my heart and He’s saying, ‘You don’t have to… I’m here. I’m here. I’m a living reality. Your sins are done. Your sins are done.’ And so there was joy unspeakable. And my life was totally different. I made a phone call—I believe it was that night or the next day—to all the people that I’d gotten into a fight with and said, ‘I don’t care what you do when I get back home, I have become a Christian now.’ Which, uh, you know, uh, what do you say to that?

You know, but I want to say something about this whole thing because there was joy unspeakable! And there was so much happiness. But I went through several months, maybe even a couple of years of darkness, in a way, over this whole issue of the sinner’s prayer.

You know, you can hear guys preaching against that, and you can think, ‘Maybe you’re overemphasizing this a little too much. Maybe you need to back off a little bit.’ Well, that hurts people. Bad doctrine hurts people. And it hurt me. And here’s the way that it hurt me. For months and like I said, maybe even a couple of years after I was saved, I left almost every meeting that I was in, about halfway through the meeting, and went to a Sunday school room and would pray the sinner’s prayer. Because I thought, ‘Lord, You’re so real to me, but I cannot be saved’, because I was taught that the way you become a Christian is you pray, ask Christ into your heart, and then God saves you.

Well, none of that happened [at my conversion]. All that happened to me was I bowed my head and at some point God shone the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ into my heart, and I was converted. And that’s basically the way that it happened.

And so like I said, this [thinking that he wasn’t saved at the retreat in South Carolina] went on for a couple of years. And what brought me out of all of that was someone gave me a tape by Paul Washer. And this was back before the days when everyone knew Paul Washer. And it was a tape of Paul preaching on Hosea 4:6 where it says, ‘My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.’ And somewhere in the midst of that sermon, he mentioned Jeremiah 17:9 where it says, ‘The heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, who can know it?’ God made that verse real! God brought that home to me. I didn’t hear anything else he said after that. Because I realized God began to unpack that verse in my life.

And He began showing me, if my heart was desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, and myself—I can’t even know it? There was no way I was going to save myself. And so all of a sudden, these verses started becoming real. Matthew 1:21, ‘You shall call His name Jesus, and He will save His people from their sins.’

I realized what happened that night I didn’t save myself. God saved me. We’re not saved by deeds done in righteousness—[not even by a pre-scripted formula like the sinner’s prayer], but by His mercy. And so what happened that night, is that God in His mercy opened my eyes to see the preciousness of Christ. and that vision so raptured my heart that I wanted to follow Christ all of the days of my life.

And so that’s what the Lord has done for me. Amen.

The sinner’s prayer, like liturgy and the Anglican or Catholic book of prayer, are all canned prayers and good for nothing. They are no better than Tetzel’s indulgences. They do not come from a convicted heart that has fallen on the Stone. Those canned, prepared prayers are only placebos that prevent falling on the Stone, and they prevent the real cries for help and for salvation from above. Blasphemy and eternal harm.

Its not that the Jews alone were the holy people and that they were naturally prone to seeking God and being forgiven and having joy and peace with God. As Moses said it,

“Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.
Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that He may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.
Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the LORD thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD.” (Deut. 9:4-7).

The children of Israel were sinners just like us all. But their saving grace and ours was that the only true God was their God and He kept sending them mediators to lead them to repentance. Those prophets would tell them things that the other nations weren’t told—straight talk, shooting from the hip. It led the human heart to repentance and to redemption and to power over the other nations when such a revival of primitive godliness was found by them.

Protestants today have the prophets in print form. Their words live on, especially the words of the greatest prophet that ever lived, Ellen G. White. But, even without her powerful descriptions of sin, Christ is still making it in to the hearts of Protestant Americans and Muslims, and others unto the uttermost parts of the world. He is reaching people through the mighty evil empire spreading around the globe—the Jesuit corruptions for the purpose to ultimately reinstall the Vatican over the world. The Jesuits will not cease their damnable work of abomination and desolation until the old papacy is back in power.

But, in response that all the abomination taking place in the darkening earth, Jesus will shine forth through His people who are sighing and crying for all the abominations taking place around them, repenting and evangelizing. And people all around the world will be coming to Christ just like Mason Vann, and hundreds more like him, who the Spirit of Christ is already preparing for the great backlash against Satan’s earthly forces of woe. Even though they will be a small remnant, they will be a formidable force to make sure the world knows just what they are doing by involving themselves in the devil’s evil work of destruction.

The Protestant witnesses for Christ will be the “burdensome stone” of Zechariah.

“The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness.
And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the LORD of hosts their God.
In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.
The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.
In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.” (Zech. 12:111).

This spiritual battle, the “spirit of grace and of supplications” will be poured upon the genuinely repentant and redeemed Protestants around the globe, “the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon”. Then the convicting Spirit of truth will become the Comforter, when He gives His redeemed Protestant people the blessings of “the oil of joy for mourning,  [and] the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isa. 61:3). Then, at that time, “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations” (Matt. 24:14). That will be the true battle of Armageddon.

“And He gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.
And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.” (Rev. 16:16-19).

Email to a YouTube testimony commenter

Hi ______

My name is David and I read your comment and hope to encourage you. I could be all wrong, but your comment sounded like it came from a Seventh-day Adventist. If that wasn’t the case, please forgive my indiscretion.

The two things that made me believe you are an Adventist was your reference to “losing your first love”, and also “righteousness by faith” in the context of the ten commandments. I am an Adventist and those two phrases have been commonly used in our subculture. If I am correct about your Adventist experience, I would also like to encourage you.

I have been an Adventist for 50 years (except or a 13 year sabbatical from the church). I’ve probably seen all that modern Adventism has to offer. I grew up in what might be correctly called a Seventh-day Methodist church (very lukewarm), I went to Shenandoah Valley Academy my senior year (so I got a taste of Adventist Christian education), I went to Mountain Missionary Institute in New Hampshire (so I got a taste of self-supported schools), I’ve been to many campmeetings, prayer meetings, Sabbath Schools and AYs. So, I have a pretty rounded education for measuring up to being a “good Adventist”. But, it all made me very empty. And I write this because if all that I listed, and if all that Jesus has to offer, is human fellowship, then no one can be saved. No one can keep their first love for Him. And I fear that human fellowship is all most SDAs know today. Multitudes have never known the merciful hand of Jesus. (Jer. 17:5-8).

Ellen White (who did know Jesus) wrote about a dream that is very significant.

“...Then I saw an exceeding bright light come from the Father to the Son, and from the Son it waved over the people before the throne. But few would receive this great light. Many came out from under it and immediately resisted it; others were careless and did not cherish the light, and it moved off from them. Some cherished it, and went and bowed down with the little praying company. This company all received the light and rejoiced in it, and their countenances shone with its glory.
        I saw the Father rise from the throne, and in a flaming chariot go into the holy of holies within the veil, and sit down. Then Jesus rose up from the throne, and the most of those who were bowed down arose with Him. I did not see one ray of light pass from Jesus to the careless multitude after He arose, and they were left in perfect darkness. Those who arose when Jesus did, kept their eyes fixed on Him as He left the throne and led them out a little way. Then He raised His right arm, and we heard His lovely voice saying, ‘Wait here; I am going to My Father to receive the kingdom; keep your garments spotless, and in a little while I will return from the wedding and receive you to Myself.’ Then a cloudy chariot, with wheels like flaming fire, surrounded by angels, came to where Jesus was. He stepped into the chariot and was borne to the holiest, where the Father sat. There I beheld Jesus, a great High Priest, standing before the Father. On the hem of His garment was a bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate. Those who rose up with Jesus would send up their faith to Him in the holiest, and pray, ‘My Father, give us Thy Spirit.’ Then Jesus would breathe upon them the Holy Ghost. In that breath was light, power, and much love, joy, and peace.” Early Writings, p. 54,55.

Notice the phrases, “Then I saw an exceeding bright light come from the Father to the Son, and from the Son it waved over the people before the throne. But few would receive this great light. Many came out from under it and immediately resisted it; others were careless and did not cherish the light, and it moved off from them.”
“I did not see one ray of light pass from Jesus to the careless multitude after He arose, and they were left in perfect darkness. Those who arose when Jesus did, kept their eyes fixed on Him as He left the throne and led them out a little way.”

If your yearning is to have that first love again, and your fear is to not be among the lost, then you are still under the bright light from the Father. Otherwise, you would be resisting it or carelessly not cherishing what you used to have. I’ve been through something similar.

Ellen White’s counsel for this is:

“There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Said the beloved John, “These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1. And do not forget the words of Christ, “The Father Himself loveth you.” John 16:27. He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe more fully. As we come to distrust our own power, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance.” Steps to Christ, p. 64.

Sister _____, more and more I am understanding the cause of losing the first love. And here it is:

“Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him:
For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.” (Heb. 12:5-12).

Only children are happy. But if we don’t let our Father spank us for our sins, then we can’t be His children, and we forfeit His joy and peace. We are illegitimate; children of the same mother (church), but of another father (the adversary).

“As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him.” (Ps. 103:11-13).

A Father who punishes us and reproves us is a God of love. Every other false religion never lets God reprove them. And although the Evangelicals might be celebrating and acting happy, they are miserable. They have become like the far eastern world religions. And to be honest, every SDA, who doesn’t let the Bible and especially the Spirit of Prophecy rebuke their sins, is equally miserable because they have not allowed God to show them their true condition, which would lead them to repentance—and to joy and peace with Him. No one can repent who doesn’t let the Law of God scourge them for being a horrific sinner.

Many YouTube testifiers are powerful because, in their misery, the Spirit of God let their sinfulness reveal to them just how bad they were. Non-SDAs are being converted even though their Evangelical denominations abrogated the Law of God and the Spirit of Prophecy, which left them all without the scourging that is the prerequisite for God to receive them. But, in the mercy of God, He has allowed the consequences for transgression to help them be scourged. “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee.” (Jer. 2:19).

All who have surrendered to the scourging consequences to breaking the Law of God have been obeying the science of salvation. For the Evangelical testifiers, as much as for the Adventists who haven’t abrogated the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy counsels and got their scourging that way, “The Law was [their] schoolmaster to bring [them] unto Christ, that [they] might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:24).

No one needs to leave the Advent movement to find God and have the peace and joy of His Spirit. What they need to do is trust God enough to stand before His scourging Law and His scorching presence! Nothing else will give us all a need for a merciful Saviour!

The Law of God and His merciful provision in His only begotten Son Jesus is the strait gate that leads to life, joy, peace with God, and the beautiful first love. But, “few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14). Don’t let that be you, Sister ­­­­­­­______! Go read the Testimonies for the church in the light of Zechariah 4:6, Deuteronomy 32:17, Isaiah 27:5; 26:3; 30:15-18! Surrender to the scourging, and then surrender to the cross of Christ. Suck the honey from the stumbling Stone, and olive oil from the humbling Flint. “The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek Him: your heart shall live for ever.” (Ps. 22:26).