Category Archives: self-worth

My Pre-Salvation Testimony

Testimonies

I’m a Christian. So, when I talk about my testimony, I’m talking about my personal story, not what’s given from the witness stand.

You see, we Christians, particularly we church-going folk, like to talk about what God has done in our lives. We like telling others about where the Lord has brought us from, how he’s changed us, and what He’s currently doing in our lives. We like to “testify.”

But as I say that, it seems to me that more Christians than not are pretty silent about what God has done to transform them. To be honest, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve been to a “testimony service” where there’s no preaching, just people telling their stories – their testimonies.

The “Great” Testimonies

But maybe it’s because so often what gets the most press, so to speak, are the testimonies that wow the audience, the “great” testimonies of how God delivered a horrible sinner and turned him into a saint. …Yeah, I know, that’s what salvation is, but work with me for a moment

What people really want to hear are the salacious details of debauchery and crime, the drugs and alcohol, the millions blown on a life of sin … you know, sort of like Kanye … and THEN how God miraculously saved them from all the excitement.  You don’t draw a crowd with a boring testimony like, “I was saved as a small child and lived a relatively God-honoring life the last 40 years.”

Why would the average Christian want to stand up in front of people and watch them yawn? For the most part, a lot of people who are born again by faith in Jesus Christ think their story isn’t worth telling, at least not worth making a big deal.

That’s why I want to share, for the very first time, my pre-salvation testimony… to encourage the average believer who’s never been a murderer, a drug dealer, a dope addict, a wifebeater, a famous musician, or a politician.

My Story

I’ve written before about my life after God saved my soul, but I’ve never written about what I was like before I gave my heart to Jesus. I didn’t want to give the devil too much credit or make my past life look attractive to those who might be tempted by the depravity to which I was bound.

Honestly, some people talk about their lives before Christ like salvation was only something they resigned to. It’s like: “I had everything money could buy – women, drugs, fast cars, airplanes, houses on the beach, and a modeling contract – but then I got saved, and now I go to church.

But not me… I was a true sinner, lost and on my way to hell, and I’m glad Jesus saved me!

Before I got saved, I was an immature, unpredictable, maladjusted mess. For a few years, I was in such a world of my own that nobody could understand me; my vocabulary was horrible, worse than a sailor’s. My language was so bad I’d even make up words to express the neediness inside.

For at least a year I drank all the time. Rarely ate a bite of food.

I never cared about my own well-being, but lived every day without any thought of life or death. I took every risk, broke every rule, and in trouble with authority on a regular, sometimes daily basis.

Before Jesus saved me, I was self-centered, self-serving, and entitled; I felt everything should be done for me, that I shouldn’t have to do anything for myself. For a couple of years, I didn’t even try.

I was like the homeless in San Fransisco; I’d defecate anywhere and anytime I wanted. Once, while attending a party at my parent’s house, I literally walked into the middle of the living room where the church people were sitting, and urinated into an ashtray on the coffee table!

The face of an unrepentant sinner full of unholy potential.

I took advantage of everyone who loved me, especially my mother. Fortunately, I had good parents who loved me through those unredeemed years, even though it seemed like every paycheck of theirs was meant to keep me alive.

That is why I could never thank God enough for what He did when He saved me on September 26, 1973… when I was only six years old!

God spared the world from what I could have become.

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You Might Be a Sinner If…

I’m a Redneck

Yes, I confess it… I’m a redneck.

I know that I’m a redneck because Jeff Foxworthy told me so. If you remember, Foxworthy’s comic routine made famous the line: “You might be a redneck if…” He would then follow with descriptions, examples, qualifiers, etc.

Below are some I know have applied to me at least once over the last 50+ years.

You might be a redneck if…

  • You read the Auto Trader with a highlight pen.
  • Every socket in your house breaks a fire code.
  • The taillight covers of your car are made of red tape.
  • Directions to your house include “Turn off the  paved road.”
  • Going to the bathroom at night involves shoes and a  flashlight.
  • You use the term `over yonder’ more than once a month.

I’m a Sinner

But unlike a lot of people in this world (and in a world of their own), I can also admit I’m a sinner. The only difference is that once I confessed my inability to change my nature, I traded my “filthy rags” for the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:9). Now, I’m still a sinner, but I’m am a saved sinner.

So, based on the actions of Adam and Eve in the third chapter of Genesis, I took a cue from Jeff Foxworthy and came up with my own list of “you might be’s.” From that list I preached a message entitled “You Might Be a Sinner If…

You might be a sinner if…

  •   You have ever talked to a Serpent – and taken its advice (v. 2).
  •   You know the difference between “Naked” and “Necked” (v. 7). Side Note: If you consider fig leaves appropriate attire, you might be a sinner.
  •  You feel like running when the law shows up (v. 8).
  •  God is searching for you, and not the other way around (v. 9).
  •  You feel self-conscious or defensive about anything you’ve ever done (v. 9-10).
  •  You ever play the “blame game” – Others, “The devil made me do it” (v. 11-13).
  •  You were born (Romans 5:12).

Change of Status

Some people try on their own to change their status in life. Sometimes rednecks move away from Redneckville in order to become a different person. But what they find out is that Redneckville never left their heart. They still have those same desires to grill Spam and fish with dynamite.

In the same way, many people think, once they finally realize they are sinners, that change can come with a simple change of atmosphere, or the turning over of a new fig leaf.

The fact is that sinners don’t become “saints” on their own. It takes outside intervention.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

If you really want to change, only Jesus can do it.

If you ask, He may even give you a hankerin for grits 😉

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Life Lessons from the School Bus (#6)

“Say it with Boldness”

There comes a time when even a little kid may decide he’s had enough. Essentially, that is what happened not long ago on my bus, and even a few thousand years ago on the plains of Judah.

The Story

You see, for some reason, a few older elementary children kept aggravating a little kindergarten student named, let’s just say, Bill. Every time Bill would get on the bus, the first words he heard were, “Hey, you got your Beyblades?” Every day, every morning, it was the same question: “You got your Beyblades?” [If you don’t know what “Beyblades” are, just click the word.]

After a while, it started getting on my nerves. It wasn’t so much the constant asking, but the constant trashing of the English language.  It was never “do you have,” or “have you got?” No, it was always “you got?” Poor little Bill never made a sound. He would just walk quietly to his seat.

Finally, about the time I was about to say, “Will you illiterate examples of prenatal abuse put a sock in it,” little Bill made his unexpected stand.

The Stand

Early one morning, shortly after a beautiful sunrise, I drove up to Bill’s house, turned on my warning lights, engaged my brakes, and opened my service doors, causing red to flash. Barely more than 3 feet tall, Bill had to grab hold of the rail as he struggled to make the climb up the staircase, each step a third his size. With each step you could hear the young scholars, those brilliant word-smiths, those elementary-school Einsteins, query from the seats inside,  “You got those Bayblades? You got those Beyblades?” Then, when his ascension was complete, he stopped and stood defiantly in the front of the bus, feet shoulder-width apart, fists clinched and placed on his waist. Without any warning, he demanded…

“SHUT THE F*** UP!”

“Whoa!! HO there, little buddy! Dude, what did you just say?!” I said, “Sonyou need to sit down…you can’t say stuff like that…I will talk with you in a few minutes.”

I had never heard, nor seen a little child with so much bravado. Like biblical David facing a bus load of mentally-challenged Goliaths, Bill decided he had heard enough. With the confidence that his words would be heard; with the confidence that just the right combination of words would demand respect, he stood on his soap box and demanded attention, never showing a hint of fear or intimidation. Without question he made his point. The other kids were shocked and silenced. Sadly, however, somebody taught him to talk that way.

Life Lesson

When you take a stand for what you believe, don’t act cowardly or intimidated. Be strong in your convictions and speak with boldness. Being meek and mild has nothing to do with being milk toast. Cowards do not deserve respect, nor an audience.

Even though little Bill chose to use inappropriate language, his indignation, expressed with boldness, earned him my respect. I couldn’t help but admire him. After becoming weary of taunting words (on and off the bus), he felt it was time to make a stand, which made me think of the story of David, the shepherd boy, who told a 9-foot tall Philistine warrior to “shut up.”

“[Who] is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” – 1 Samuel 17:26b NKJV

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. “Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.” – 1 Samuel 17:45-47 NKJV

Because we live in a post-modern, relativistic society, bold speech is more likely to be labeled “hate speech,” than admired. The reason is that many consider truth to be ever-changing and subjective, not universal. So, when a person dares to speak with boldness what is believed to be an absolute truth, the “Goliaths” may continue to laugh, threaten, and continue in their taunting. Regardless, when Truth is on your side, there is no reason to be ashamed, or afraid.

May we all learn a lesson from little Bill’s outburst. When the time comes to make a stand, do it like you mean it. No matter your size or your age, your education or your status, when you stand for what is right, don’t be afraid to say, “Listen to me!” And when we do feel afraid, there’s nothing wrong with asking for boldness. Pray as the Apostle Paul did, “[That] utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” – Ephesians 6:19-20 KJV

 

 

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He Heard! Selah.

“I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.” – Psalm 3:4

FullSizeRender (1)Selah. It’s a musical notation meant to make us pause and reflect on what we’ve just read (or sung – the Psalms were songs). And what better to think about than the Lord of heaven hearing our cries?

I Cried

קָרָא qârâʼ (kä·rä’), translated as “cried,” could mean to recite, read, cry out, or proclaim. But in the context, and especially sense this word has also been used of animals crying out – and since the root of this word has to do with the sound a person makes when confronted unexpectedly, or accosted – I think the cry David made was more like a loud, desperate call for help . . . like the desperate plea from a fallen child.

Just think about that for a moment. Are you a parent? What does it do to you when your child cries out for help? What does that cry sound like to you? When your child is being chased by a dog, or when he falls and gets hurt, does he recite his proclamation of displeasure? You know the difference, don’t you?

So does God for His children when they cry out for Him.

He Heard Me

What an expression of hope! What an expression of joy! David was thrilled that God would actually hear him when he called.

He heard me from his holy hill” was an expression humility…of wonder…of amazement that the Holy One would be mindful of him (Psalm 8:4). But it was also a testimony to David’s enemies who had said previously that there was “no help for him in God” (Psalm 3:2).

Oh, God hears! David wrote this song as a testimony to that fact. He reminds us that heaven is not deaf, but attentive and listening. Our prayers are not worthless words read or recited to a spaghetti monster in the sky. No, there is a God, and He hears His own.

Pause and think about that for a while. 

 

 

 

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Don’t Be Intimidated – Be Bold

Some of you might be feeling discouraged, afraid, worn out, or intimidated by the Enemy and his minions. Don’t be! Be bold! 

Just today I came across a guy on Facebook who thought he could scare me into a cave with his personal insults and arrogance. He said, “Cry, fool! I’m thirsty.” I guess he supposed I’d be scared to converse with him. I wasn’t. 

Yet, too many believers fear the atheists, the skeptics, and the difficult questions and avoid any confrontation. Considering who promised to be on our side, that’s a shame. Even if we lose a battle here and there, the outcome of the conflict has been determined in eternity past. So, get in the fight! 


Don’t be intimidated… into silence with regards to your faith – share it anyway.

Don’t be intimidated… by those who want to deny the reality or historicity of your faith – their arguments aren’t as strong as they think.

Don’t be intimidated… by politicians and lawmakers, especially those who support every kind of deviancy known to man – they will have to answer to the High King of Heaven one day.

Don’t be intimidated… by unexplained phenomena – the universe and EVERYTHING in it was created by God for His glory.

Don’t be intimidated… by those who believe truth is relative and morality is based on the flip of a coin – they’re afraid of a higher law.

Don’t be intimidated… by children who think they know everything – because they don’t.

Don’t be intimidated… by a lack of experience or knowledge – get it.

Don’t be intimidated… by a mountain – it can either be climbed or tunneled through…or moved.

Don’t be intimidated… by the strength of others – if God be for us, who can be against us?

Don’t be intimidated… by the unknown – it’s not.

1Pe 3:14-16  – But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy [are ye]: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; (15) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (16) Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

2Ti 1:12  – For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Rom 8:37 – Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

I don’t know what you’ve been going through, or what you’ve been facing, but I hope this helps. May the Holy Spirit use these words to minister to you, as they have to me, and give you strength to stand.

Don’t be intimidated… “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4, the words of Jesus).

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More “Wonderful” than Given Credit

In 1946 one of the best films ever made, was released by RKO Studios. The film was called “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

I try to watch it before Christmas every year, as many other people do. It’s just too much of a classic not to.

But not long ago, as I was talking with someone about this movie, my emotions bubbled to the surface and started leaking out of my eyes. As I thought of the movie’s message and what it means to me, I couldn’t help but wonder how many suicides this movie has prevented since it’s release 72 years ago.

How many people have gone through life seeing dream after dream crushed by circumstances and between-a-rock-and-a-hard place decisions? How many people have been able to sympathize with the character of George Bailey as he tried and tried to get ahead, but was always forced to make a moral choice resulting in him having to sacrifice while others accomplished their dreams?

How many people have watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” at a time when they were contemplating jumping off their own snow-covered bridge?

I’d say the number is far more than anyone can imagine.

So, if you get a chance to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” again this year (or for the first time), remember that there are a lot of people who are struggling with life, whether or not it’s better to die than to keep living with disappointment and shattered dreams.

Pray that God will continue to use this classic to spread the message that every life is precious, no matter the circumstances, no matter how much a failure we think we are.

And even when all seems hopeless, as it does at one point for the character of George Bailey, be reminded that angels are real, God knows what we are going through, and an unexpected resolution might be just around the corner.

Just don’t lose hope and keep others from jumping. 

 

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What Are You Worth?

What would you die for?

What is so valuable that you would risk or even sacrifice your own life? Have you ever stopped to think about that? You should.

The typical things in life that are considered so valuable, when put in perspective, aren’t really worth that much. Even the most “priceless” treasures are not worth your life – or are they? Would you fight a thief for your purse or car? If so, you are saying those things are more valuable than your life, for you are willing to risk your life to keep them. It is how people die every day in the pursuit of, and the keeping of earthly possessions. Pretty foolish.

What about non-concrete items, such as pride? Some people are willing to fight to the death, or kill others, when insulted or “dissed.” Perception is NOT reality, just as integrity is not determined by opinion; yet, some would rather risk death than be wrongly perceived.

Is family worth risking your life?

My wife, two of our daughters, and me.

Really, there is no argument against this one. But on the other hand, society has a difficult time determining the value of life; one life is not as valuable as another if convenience or personal pleasure is at stake.

I would risk my life to protect my family, and if you doubt it, try to hurt them – I carry more than a big stick.

Many, however, kill their own children before birth.  It seems to me that society values gold more consistently than life itself.

Are you willing to die for what you believe?

Now this, I know, could open up a whole can of worms; but that’s OK. Just stop and think about it for a moment. Do you believe in anything so much that it is worth more than your own life? When your life is on the line, knowing the difference between what you believe and what is only opinion is of key importance. A martyr is one who would rather die for what he believes than deny it.

Is your faith worth dying for?  If not, then how much do you really believe?

How much is YOUR life worth?

Value is determined by what someone is willing to give for it, right? That’s typically the way it goes. So, if nothing on earth is more valuable than your life, does that make your life valuable? Well, maybe to you.

Think about it, to someone else your life might not be as valuable as their own. Would you value the life of a total stranger so much that you would offer your own in exchange? I mean, really? Someone may even be willing to give all of the world’s riches in order to obtain your life, but are you worth it? Who would even have that kind of wealth? That leaves you with nothing more than your sense of value compared to another’s; your worth against theirs.

Value is relative to the thing for which the buyer will exchange.  That’s a disturbing thought, isn’t it?

On the other hand, what if the Creator of the universe offered to die for you?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:8 NIV

That would make your worth INCALCULABLE! The King of Heaven, the Son of God, gave His own life in exchange for yours, even accepting your guilt and failures as His own, and payed the death penalty for sin on your behalf.

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. – 2Corinthians 5:21 KJV

That makes you valuable; Jesus unique. How many others have done what He did for you? Most of us would die for our children or spouse.  Some of us would die for a friend or maybe a good person.  But how many of us would give our own life to purchase the life of a stranger, much less a convict, drug dealer, murderer, etc?  Jesus did.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:6-8 NIV

That’s the whole reason for Christmas, you know.  Jesus had to come to earth as a baby to grow into the Man that would willingly go to a cruel cross.  The gift of Christmas is the gift of life, purchased with the life of the Giver of Life. How ironic is that? How wonderful?

Let’s Review

  • Jesus Christ suffered the most excruciating death Rome could conceive, crucifixion…for you.
  • The Prince of Peace was shredded by a “cat of nine tails”…for you.
  • The King of Kings wore a crown of 4″ thorns…for you.
  • God became flesh so the world could know Him…including you.

Don’t believe the lies told to you by Satan, the culture, or your depressed emotions. Your life is of immeasurable worth because of the immeasurable price offered for it.

If you are worth that much, and if that kind of price was paid, don’t you think giving your life to Jesus is a fair exchange?

If you would like to know more about Jesus, and how he loves you and died for you, then call this number, 1-800-NEED-HIM. Or, if you would like to talk with me, just send me an email.  Your life is worth it.

 

This article was first posted 6/13/2014 and has since been updated.

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