I don’t remember the first time I went to church.
I felt like I was raised there.
I do remember several defining moments while in church. The year was 1960. As a small child, I remember standing up in the pew in my mother’s arms. A quartet of five guys in white suits with white shoes was on the stage.
I remember having this inner knowing that one day I would stand on a church stage and sing. I remember saying to myself, “I’m going to do that.” From that day on, I always knew that I would be a singer or a preacher.
Let’s fast forward a few years. I left the church at 17 years old and entered a spiral of negativity and sin.
Everyone has a dark side.
As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous — not even one. (Romans 3:10, NLT)
As a teenager, I decided to discover my dark side. It was not pretty. The fact is, it was ugly and awful, even for me. It is one thing to sin. It is another thing to choose to sin and to sin big. I made that choice.
I was introduced to drugs and alcohol at the age of 20. I knew better than to loose my dark side, but I chose darkness over light. The party life was addictive, and addiction created a life of secrecy and shame.
My addiction was any drug. I was taking pills by the handfuls. I did not even know what was going into my body. I was seeking to escape all reality. I quickly lost my dreams and purpose.
Without a purpose, there is no meaning in living. It was the perfect playground for the devil. Cocaine and methamphetamines were my drugs of choice. I began selling cocaine in nightclubs. And then I became my own customer. I was consuming more than I was selling.
My life got darker and darker
As darkness took over my soul I became a compulsive liar. Stealing from friends and my employer was normal. My friends were pawns in my darkness. My life was out of control. My every thought was driven by darkness and consumed with how do I get high? Anxiety was an add-on.
I could not see life beyond my addiction. My addiction controlled everything. Like most addicts, I lost hope in everything except the hopes of getting high.
The severity of my addiction lasted for nearly 10 years. My life was hopeless. I was desperate for change or I was going to die. There were days I did not want to be alive but I was too selfish to kill myself. I desperately needed help. I came under severe conviction about the way I was living.
In my desperation, I privately began praying.
My prayers were selfish-seduced by fear and consumed with “get me home from this drunk driving experience.” But God was working and always answered my prayers.
A near-death experience
One particular driving incident was a defining moment. I was driving down a Texas highway, and I was drunk on my butt. While leaving a nightclub, I prayed, “God get me home.”
Within 10 minutes of my drive, I fell asleep at the wheel of my Corvette. Suddenly I awaken to see a metal pole right in front of my car, and I ranked the wheel to the left as hard as I possibly could. Thankfully, I missed the pole.
A Corvette is made of fiberglass metal. The pole would have shattered my car into pieces and cut the car in half. Did I mention I was driving 80 miles an hour? This near accident shook me to the core.
This incident caused me to realize that God had a plan for my life.
Not long after the near-miss crash, my wife *(to be) came into my life. She was one of the happiest people I have ever met. She loved life, and I wanted that. She invited me to church.
She talked about God all the time. I started to see the possibility of a drug-free life. I began to discover a purpose outside of addiction. My addiction was off and on. My (to be) wife struggled with me for 9–10 months of abuse, lying, stealing, and abandonment. I would leave for days at a time while shooting meth and partying like a fool.
Another near-death experience
After four days of shooting methamphetamine, I returned to my apartment. When I arrived at home, a deep sense of conviction overwhelmed me. My (to be) wife arrived at my apartment, and she planned to take my life and then take her own. She told me of her plans to do a murder-suicide, and I said, Charlotte, “I want to change my life. I want to give my life to Christ.”
I asked her to call her pastor to pray with me. We arrived at the church and I asked the pastor if I could pray at the altar? I walked the aisle and fell at the altar, and prayed for several hours. Afterward, the pastor prayed for me, and we talked about what happened. I walked out of the church a new person — never to use drugs ever again.
Many are envious of such a testimony. Others get mad. But I am thankful for what God did in my life that day. I found freedom in Jesus.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17, NKJV)
I give all the glory to God for all He has done for me.
Married and College
Six weeks after my salvation, I was married and enrolled in Bible College. While in college, I was hired at a church as a youth pastor. After years of education, I received my Theology Degree. Between college and ministry, I have been a pastor and teacher for 35 plus years.
God has brought me to places I could have never dreamed. Before Christ, my life consisted of divorce, abandoning my kids, fathering children out of wedlock, drug, and abusing women. Only God could restore such a person. I have written five books and written articles for Church Leaders, Fox News, and Charisma Magazine.
God can take us to places that we can never imagine.
It all started at four years old in a little Nazarene Church in the small state of Indiana.
If God did that for me, He will do it for you.
Thank you for reading this post.
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