Life After Salvation
When I stood to my feet as a child of the King, I found that there were people all around me. I had not noticed that they had come to the alter. My wife was there, my sister-in-law Helen, Kemper, and others. People I did not know except by their face were hugging me and telling me they loved me. I knew they truly meant it because they said it with real tears in their eyes. That is an example of true Christian love. It was not necessary that they knew me well, they were moved to tears by a lost man being saved. I have since come to understand and inherit that love myself. I now shed tears of joy when I witness a lost soul give their heart to Jesus. I was not able to do that before. I thought of myself as a compassionate person but if someone I did not know came to the Lord, I did not find the level of joy in their salvation that I do now. This capacity to love those we do not know is a precious gift from God to those who know Him as their Heavenly Father.
As one might imagine, I was extremely overjoyed at this moment in my life, yet the Devil tried to rob me of it. I learned immediately how fast the Devil will try to influence Godís children when he looses them. I know he was very angry at me. It makes anybody mad when someone comes up to them and snatches something from them that has always been theirs and then claims it for his own. That is what happened to the Devil. He knows he lost me forever, but that is all the more reason for him to try and have influence over me. There was no need when I was his. He knows it would be to his advantage to destroy my testimony and to quickly lead me down an unrighteous path because if he accomplishes this, I loose my witnessing power and can not lead others to Christ. As I said, he wasted no time after my salvation to try and lead me astray. I found that in the midst of my joy, I doubted for a moment. I had wanted this so much that a concern came upon me that I may have done something wrong. Perhaps I had not prayed the exact words that I needed to or I had erred in some other way. I now appreciate the words of Steve Ball who once told me that he met his adversary when he met his savior. Satan may have been quick to strike but God was quick in protecting His new born child. In that moment of doubt, a man by the name of Odie Houseright came to shake my hand and told me something that I will remember for as long as life or mind prevails. He told me, ďThe first thing the Devil will do is try to convince you that you are not saved, and when he does, bring him to this time and place.Ē Odie had no way of knowing that he was an instrument of God that night. No sooner had Satan tried to rob me of my peace than God working through Odie restored it. After realizing the truth in Odieís words, my faith was lifted because the fact that the Devil tried to destroy my faith actually strengthened my faith in my salvation. I just love when God beats the Devil with his own club!
I gave my first testimony that night. I do not speak well to large groups but that night I did so with peace. When church let out, I had to tell more people which is another piece of evidence of my salvation. I called Mark first. He was first because he had played such a major role in leading me to the Lord. Through him I had learned so many things; not only scripture, but also of things that can only be seen through the life of a Christian in good standing with God. I could see in Mark true Christian love; Love for his fellow man and love for the Lord. Through Mark, I had gained a better understanding of Godís nature. Mark has a way of explaining the Gospel that makes even the most difficult to understand elements of Godís Word revealing. Mark had been praying for my salvation since we had first met. This man who became my best friend had a burden for my lost soul. Mark was deserving to receive the first call.
When I went to bed the night of my salvation, I had a feeling of peace I had never known. I now knew for the first time in my life at age forty two that my eternal destiny was Heaven. Never again would I have concern that I would go to Hell if I should die before accepting the Lord as my savior. I relished in the knowledge that no matter what trials or hardships that lay ahead, the final outcome would be eternal life with happiness, joy, peace, love, and pleasures unknown. I could now rest in the security of Godís promise regardless of any troubles I encounter in this world. I also knew that for the very first time, that my prayers would reach my Heavenly Father. My first prayer to him was to first thank him for my salvation and my first request was for him to bring my Dad to conviction so that he may be saved. I also prayed for the salvation of others but my heaviest burden was and remains for my Dad. I prayed that God would send him a witness to explain the plan of salvation and that God would give him comprehension of the message. I asked God to place a burden on his heart to hear Godís word. These prayers for my Dad has been a daily prayer of mine from that night to this very day. God has already been answering my prayers. My Dad has been to church twice as I write this and plans to come more. Also God has sent two witnesses to him. My Dad is lacking in his understanding and requires more witnessing. Although I have witnessed to several since my salvation, I find it the most difficult to witness to my own Dad. My prayers continue for him. I ask that any who will read this, please pray for him.
As a new born Christian, I had many things to learn. Just like in the world, growing in Christ has its growing pains. The following Wednesday night, Andy asked me to give my testimony to the church. I did not expect him to ask for it, but I stood and began to speak. This time I did not feel the peace that I did the night I was saved and I felt very clumsy in my speech. There were awkward moments where the words would not come, there were long pauses, I generally felt I had done a terrible job. It bothered so much that later that night when I got home, I called Andy to express to him my feelings. I told him I felt embarrassed at how poorly I had spoken. Andy pointed out that the Devil would always try to convenience me that my testimony was terrible because he certainly did not want me to give it again. He reassured me that there was nothing flawed about my testimony and never worry about the delivery just speak the truth and God will use it. A few days later, people were coming to me telling me how much they enjoyed my testimony. One man even remarked on it to the church during his own testimony. I believe God was sending me peace. This was the second time in the first week of being His child that the Devil had tried to strike me down and the second time God had shielded me from his destructive desseption. I was already learning to recognize the Devilís work and was seeing how by having faith and being obedient, the Lord would always be there for me to protect me.
On January 21, 2001, two weeks after I was saved, Poochie and I were getting ready for church that Sunday morning when we received a phone call with wonderful news. We were informed that Jack had been saved that very morning. This Sunday would turn out to be one of the most memorable, spirit filled, church services I would ever attend. The church was overjoyed at the news of Jackís salvation. Jack came to church later during the worship service and gave testimony that the Lord had saved his soul. God poured out His spirit on Freedom Baptist Church that Sunday of January 21st. I experienced for the first time the real joy of a lost man other than myself coming to Christ. For the first time I was spiritually moved from the salvation of another. I was able to rejoice with my brothers and sisters this Sunday rather than sitting and feeling alone and desperate. I had known Jack for many years and this day was the first time he told me that he loved me. In the midst of this joyous time, Waymond Linkous came forward and announced his call to preach. The church was once again in a celebration. I have never witnessed the Spirit poured out so abundantly as it was that Sunday.
Jack left us on Wednesday afternoon February 28, 2001. I did not say we lost him because you have not lost anything if you know where it is. Jack is in Heaven with the Lord and those of us who have heeded the call of the Lord and those who will heed the call before it is too late will see him again. Jack was quiet a character. He was never one to put up a front. He was the same all the time around all people. You never had to guess how Jack felt, he let his feelings known without hinder. There was nothing phony about Jack. he was real. Whether you liked him or disliked him; you did so based on who he was. There was little to no allowance for misconception about him. By the same token, if Jack liked you, you knew it, and if he didnít, you knew that too. In his last days, Jack loved everyone, and true to his nature, his feelings were exemplified in his character. It is this pure honesty in him that I admired and will remember most about him. Jack was always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone, both as a lost man and as a saved man. God only changed the bad things, but left the good. I will miss Jack and I look forward to seeing him again.
It is a true blessing to feel the Holy Spirit when it comes upon you. Although I feel it is always present in my church there are times itís presence does not always seem to be as moving as others. I have also seen times that others seemed to feel it more than I. This bothered me shortly after my salvation. It bothered me that others were sometimes moved to shouts and praise while I did not have the same moving experience. One Wednesday night after a prayer meeting, I expressed this to Helen as she drove me home. She offered a very simple but profound explanation which gave me some peace on the subject. She said, ďMaybe it is planting time and not reaping time.Ē I understood the analogy. Todayís sermon may seem without much substance but days, weeks, or even months down the road when the time is right, we may draw from that sermon and obtain peace, strength, or guidance at the time it is needed. It would seem then that while some sermons offer instant remedies, others are stored up like grain for the Winter to be used at a later time.
I learned another lesson regarding prayer shortly after I was saved. After being saved, not only did I begin to attend both morning and evening service on Sunday, I had started attending Wednesday night prayer meetings as well. One Wednesday night I came to the alter to pray for the first time. A lady was seated at the alter and had been anointed for a medical problem. Andy had all that were at the alter to join hands forming a circle around her with our backs to her. The idea came from the natural instinct of the Buffalo which form such a circle around their young during a storm. The herd faces the storm to give protection to the young. We joined hands forming the circle as instructed and began to pray. I had never took part in prayer at the alter before. As we began to pray, I noticed the words of those around me. Their words flowed effortlessly and with vigor. My own words however were clumsy and awkward even worse than when I had given my testimony. I felt very bad that I was unable to pray as well as all those around me. I had difficulty concentrating. I was confused. Why did I have such difficulty in praying. At times my mind had even been blank and the words would not come. Was I not a child of God just as those I was praying with? Why then did it seem that they had a spirit about them that seemed to anoint them and give them the ability to pray with such zeal? This bothered me deeply. Later that night at home I was thinking about how poorly I had prayed when out of no where it seemed, I began to think about Jesus walking on the water. When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, he called to him saying, ďLord if it is you, command me to come to you.Ē Jesus answered, ďcome.Ē As Peter left the boat, he stepped firmly on the water and began to walk toward Jesus. Peter was then distracted by the wind and the waves around him. He was suddenly afraid and he began to sink. Jesus caught him and told him he had little faith. I thought how earlier that night I was like Peter. I took my sight off the Lord and became aware of my surroundings and therefore began to sink. My focus should have been on talking to the Lord. My concern should have been for the lady sitting at the alter who needed our prayers, but rather my concern was for my delivery of the prayer. I was ashamed and prayed asking for forgiveness. I had learned a valuable lesson. When I pray now with others at the alter, I focus on the Lord. I am not concerned with the delivery, for I am not giving a performance. I only strive to pray humbly and in truth. I no longer compare my prayer to anotherís prayer. It has been pointed out to me that some may memorize a prayer which gives a false impression. The Bible tells us we are not to do this. How can a prayer be sincere if it is memorized? I keep my words simple and speak to Him in the best way that I can, much like I would talk to anyone else. Through this experience I grew a little.
I have also learned in my short time as a Christian how to better deal with temptation. The Devil is crafty and persuasive. He has been at his work a very long time and understands human nature very well. In fact human nature is his accomplice. It is our very nature to sin which works to the Devils advantage. He often offers us the excuse of human nature to convince us it is all right to sin. The Devil is actually correct in much of what he tells us. He will wrap a lie with a little truth to camouflage his deceit. It is indeed natural to have all these feelings and responses. However we as born again Christians are not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed. We are not to follow our own nature but follow Godís will as revealed to us in His word.
It is a difficult and constant struggle to resist temptation, defying the sinful nature of the flesh to conform to the will of God. We must learn to recognize that when we set out to rationalize our sinful actions, we are under the deceitful influence of Satan. We are to resist, for there is no rationalization for sin. We must also be constantly aware that when the Devil tempts us we have someone from which we may draw strength. I have found that if we will call upon the name of the Lord as soon as we recognize temptation creeping upon us, He will help us and the Devil will flee. Watch out because he will be back. He never stops. He lies in wait like a cat of pray hiding and stalking; ready to strike when we are most vulnerable. I believe the best we can do is learn to recognize his crafty ways and remember our source of strength that it is so close it dwells within us.
Although the Lord has revealed to me this knowledge, I am far from being incorruptible. Despite the things I know, sometimes the Devil still wins a battle and I fall to temptation. All I can do is repent and use the experience to strengthen me for the next round. We all have our weaknesses and Satan knows them very well. For some it is greed, for others it is lust and some may be particularly vulnerable to thoughts and acts of vengeance. Whatever our weakness I believe, that is where the Devil will strike the most often and hit us the hardest. The Devil does not win as many battles with me as he once did as I have grown stronger in Christ with time. I hope and pray to continue my Christian growth so that he will win yet fewer battles as time passes. I believe however, that because I am still in this imperfect flesh, I will continue on occasion to fall to temptation until the Lord takes me from this corruptible body. At my best it seems I walk a crooked line on a straight path. At my worst, I veer from that straight and narrow way. My shepherd is always there however and calls me back. I know His voice. I find some peace in the knowledge however, that although Satan may continue to win a battle now and then, he as already lost the war, and he has lost me! How wonderful it will be to someday be rid of this menacing foe forever!
I have been blessed with many answered prayers since being saved. I have had two friends of many years, Phyllis and Larry come to the Lord. My Mom rededicated her life, My Dad has been in church and has been visited by two good witnesses. My brother has shown an increase in interest of Godís word. These are all major prayers that have been answered. Many daily prayers have also been answered such as strength for the day, comfort and guidance during difficult times, increased wisdom of Godís word, opportunities to witness to others, deliverance from temptation and specific answers to specific questions have been revealed.
I feel Godís plan for me is still very much in the making. I have since lost my job at TRW. It seems like a bad thing to happen, but I feel God has a purpose for it. As much as God has caused the events listed above to come together, I donít believe it would be in vain. Perhaps God is making a way for me to have more time to serve him. I am not sure how the rest of his plan will materialize. I trust in him. He said all things work to the good of those who abide in him. That is enough. In the similar words of my friend Mark, ďI do not know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future.
My eyes continued to get worse with time. I was out of work and could not see well enough to do the only type of work that I knew (design). I applied for my disability. Many people told me that people never get it on the first try. Usually there would be several appeals and most likely I would need an attorney before I could get it. I got it on the first try! The difference in the income of a designer and being on disability is very significant. My income was cut to about one third of what it was when I was a designer. I wondered if I would be able to keep my home. My mortgage payments are higher than it would seem possible to endure on my reduced income. That was over three years ago. I have not missed a payment nor a meal. Praise God! I did have to make some lifestyle changes, but that is fine. I was able to keep my home which is within sight of my church, so I can continue to attend regardless of how poor my eyesight is or will get.
Although I am legally blind, I still see well enough to do many things. I am still able for instance to use a computer. I can not use one well enough to hold a job however because, the eyestrain it causes makes it necessary for me to take more frequent breaks than any employer could tolerate. I have been seeking to find a home base business to supplement my disability income where I could work at my own pace and manage my own schedule. I am currently taking a correspondence course in Web Site Design. I hope I will be able to use that skill for supplementing my income, but also to glorify the Lord in some way. I have a real interest in designing web sites for churches and other organizations of which the Lord has given his anointing.
The Lord blesses me every day in more ways than I can count. The best is yet to come!