(tHE jOHN v. mEAGHER sTORY)
The testimony you are about to read is about the battle of despair vs. hope. The sense of hope is crucial to everyone in the human race. Despair consumes hope. This testimonial is about a man who had lived his life in despair, the despair that comes from Satan as a narcissistic, self-centered search for
identity. Was this man all that he thought he was? What seemed to be a life in self-assurance, driven confidence of self-knowledge was what he defined his
identity with. It all turned out to be a lie. You see, inwardly we all have a desire to crave relationship with our Creator and gracious Father God. When we ignore that craving or try
to supplant it, we become obsessed with filling that emptiness in our hearts
with the fleshly desires of this world. It never works! Hence we become mired in despair. This man was no exception as you will see.
As one reads through this story, it becomes all too clear that the personal pronoun
I was once again living in Racine, Wisconsin in the winter of 1992-1993, staying at the YMCA and working as a night manager at Vision House for one Sister Aceto. I was
quite messed up as I had come back from Cedar Rapids, Iowa around the Fourth of July, just in time to see my mother pass away the
same day that I came back for the long Independence Day celebration. Needless to say I relapsed back into my alcoholic and abusive nature, and could not care less where my behavior was leading me. The following January, I received a call from a contract engineering employment service that offered me the dream job of a lifetime: working at Ford Motor Company's R&D engineering department. I was to work on the new Jaguar XK8 and was totally blown away by the very idea of the possibilities that was being extended. It meant to me that my design expertise was finally getting noticed.
I arrived in Dearborn, Michigan the first week of February and did not get back into the habit of working any 12-step programs like I should have, nor did I look for a church family or seek any spiritual guidance. Therefore, I relapsed almost from my first paycheck. I had a hard time taking myself to meetings and doing the things that I needed to do to get my life in order and stay clean and sober. Why wasn't I relying on God and my faith to see me through this time that was supposed to be the pinnacle of my career as a designer? Where were my faith and my search for spirituality? I now believe that I was acting like so many from my generation, running away from God and His plan for me, and being narcissistic and selfish in MY plans. I had once again taken my will back from God and was doing the things that I wanted to do. Why, oh why did I need to stay active in my addiction? Did I hate myself so much that I could not see any other self-description other than being a drunk and a coke junkie? Granted, I no longer was going to deal cocaine, I had brought death and destruction to too many people and messed up far too many lives. I couldn't and wouldn't be the cause of anyone else's death again!
Yet, because I was using again, my fate would be in others' hands, it was bound to happen again; I was arrested for possession and as a consequence for missing a few shifts at work, Ford let me go. Wow, now there were some angry feelings that were inevitable to put on myself and "give" me the excuse to try to self-destruct. Yes, I visualized suicide as my way at getting even with God and myself for my umpteenth failure at recovery. Of course my addiction destroyed every relationship I had ever been blessed with, even my brother and sisters had given up on me. I felt all alone; the emptiness of loneliness was nothing more than a cold, dark separation from God and others as well as myself. What a strange self-hatred to be trapped in!
Alcohol and addiction are such
possessive animals, that alienation remains Satan's greatest tools to steal
one's own identity, morals and values. It becomes an ever increasing
downward spiral ...
It is such a shame when a man is too afraid to feel his feelings or to express genuine honest emotion. Yet, it is a common occurrence found all too often these days. The state of emotional and mental dishonesty is so condemning, that that it seems to begin to even try to attempt any repairs to the damage done to everyone, who leave those alone in their self-hatred, is totally futile. It is so true that when all a man has left is shame, guilt, and remorse, self-pity becomes one's only companion. Alcohol and addiction are such possessive animals, that alienation remains Satan's greatest tools to steal one's own identity, morals and values. It becomes an ever-increasing downward spiral; depression feeding off of shame, and addictive behavior feeding off of depression in return. No feelings are left, only the coldness that comes from such a bottomless pit of isolation and hatred. It seemed that way in my instance, that the only way to get off the roller coaster was to eliminate the cause: my own life that was causing such despair. I had been in that frame of mind before, only I could not even overdose right. I awoke twice before from intentional overdoses, so I thought I would try a different method this time instead; I would walk westward on the train tracks that would be used for an eastward bound Amtrak train around midnight. Alas, it was not to be. Sometime before I was expecting to "kiss" the train, I fell into a conversation with myself. I thought it was myself, but I was wrong, it had to be a Divine intervention. Why else would I change my plans. It wasn't fear or love of life; I was in the twilight zone of self-hatred. And people, who hate themselves, have little reason to go on. So why then was "I" telling myself to seek help? I wasn't rational enough to spell my name, let alone give hope to a hopeless man. But seek help was the only thought that I could manage. God had to be talking to me. Was it a Divine spark that was speaking to my heart?
Despite my self-loathing, I had to somehow find help. They say that God works in mysterious ways. I suppose they are right, because the next thing that I can remember is sitting in the VA hospital admission's lobby. I have tried to remember those lost hours, and I have even imagined(?) that I had been saved by a state trooper who was really a guardian angel in disguise. Or maybe I dreamed it; perhaps it was even a real cop? Anyway, I don't really know; all I recall is that on April Fool's Day, 1993, I was being admitted into a long-term treatment program for those of us who have been through treatment before and have failed to remain clean and sober. I had my doubts about success, but I suppose even then, I held on to the tiniest sliver of hope.
Next began a journey that was so very different than anything I could ever have imagined. After becoming indoctrinated into the Elmhurst Home's routine, I explored many aspects of my addictive personality and started to comprehend those personal characteristics that had led me to relapse instead of recover before. One of these revelations concerned my running away from God my whole adult life. Why was I living in fear (or better put, denial) that I was meant to do something other with my life? Sure, my grandmother wanted me to become an ordained minister of a church (doesn't everyone's?). I had entertained living a life devoted to serving God and a congregation as a young teenager; even visiting several denominational colleges and seminaries. But all those aspirations disappeared in my rebellious angst during the Viet Nam war and the Civil Rights Movement as I neared adulthood. My rebellion probably started much earlier when my grandmother did not allow me to attend my grandfather's funeral service. I despised her at the time, and I was damned if anyone was now going to tell me what to do with my life! In fact, I felt that I could no longer remain part of my denomination's silent apathy to what was being perceived by me as cultural chaos. I had a need to express my concerns to God and to receive some sort of spiritual feedback, but I couldn't seem to hear Him responding back. Why was God silent to all the prayers for relieving pain, oppression, and eliminating the fear of an inevitable World War?
I left my youthful faith lying on the doorstep of my church
I had rebelled against anyone's aspirations and desires for me while growing up and this turned out to be no different. So, I left my youthful faith lying on the doorstep of my church. But now, twenty plus years later I knew that if I was to recover from my addictive nature, I needed God. Only Jesus could have healed me, I was beyond ALL human help. But how was I going to let God heal me? How could I even ask for His grace? I did realize that through many times of reflection, God indeed had a different path marked out for me, but my moments of clarity were few and far between, during almost two decades of addiction and self will. How did God want me to proceed? What really was my life's path meant to be? It was through a Baptist minister that God enlightened me with a hope of a life that could be different.
The Reverent Willie Blackmon said that it was time to stop running away from God; "There is a prophet named Jonah in the Bible and he had a difficult time with accepting God's plan for him, yet he finally did, shouldn't you?" he asked. I hesitantly, at first, explored the path of ordained ministry and decided to "turn my will and my life over to the care of God." It was time to actually live the Third Step of Alcoholics Anonymous. I needed to accept myself and acknowledge the Divine journey that had brought me thus far. But what was I supposed to tell the people in charge of allowing me to become a minister in the Evangelic Lutheran Church in America? Only the truth; I needed to stop slowly trying to kill myself in my addiction and to accept the person I was and who I was really meant to be. Reverend Blackmon said that God will use me, I just have to trust Him. What a journey this discernment process was to become. It is slow toil (understanding God's purpose for our lives), so slow that it takes God all time and eternity to make a man and woman follow His own purpose. The only way we can be any use to God is to let Him take us through the discovery of the infinitesimal uniqueness of our own individuality. It is astonishing how ignorant we are about ourselves! The greatest curse in our spiritual life is arrogance. Wherever there is an element of pride or of conceit, Jesus cannot explain a thing about each of our own unique personalities. Only He can take us through the disappointment of a wounded pride of intellect, through disenchantment of the heart, through all our afflicted emotions, in fact through any battle we are meant to go through for metamorphosis and change and in the end, make us whole. Understanding of this was to happen slowly, very slowly for me. Yet. through it all, I have been granted some patience towards understanding the spiritual implications of this epiphany. But I am getting a little ahead of myself here, and bits and pieces come slowly through the change of obedience.
Before attending the seminary for ordination into the ELCA, I would need to go back to college to get my Bachelor's degree. So, after six months of inpatient treatment, I matriculated into Marygrove College in Detroit and graduated in 1997 with numerous honors and a degree in Religious Studies. I also received an Associates' degree in Sacred Music at the same time. Who would have thought it possible? Only my dad as it turned out. After so many years of self-imposed estrangement, he let me know that he still called me his son, and he was joyful for me. He wanted me to come back into his life. It was far more rewarding to be accepted back into his graces than it was to graduate. I really felt loved; I didn't deserve it, but dad allowed me to realize what the prodigal son must have felt like. I can hardly imagine what God must have felt also.
So, it was off to Minnesota to attend seminary. The studies were difficult (to say the least), but that wasn't the overwhelming obstacle I was facing. Of course, I felt that I was different than nearly everyone else attending there for future service in the church. Hardly anyone else there could even conceive of (let alone experience) the kind of dance with the devil that I had done. I also faced the problem of getting synodical approval from the SE Michigan Synod. I had been truthful in presenting them with my past. I was told that I had been "brutally honest." Was I supposed to lie? My addictive past and the God-blessed recovery I was in were proof of God's hand in our affairs. I was left speechless and of course, was admitted to Luther conditionally. Well, little did I know that it would also mean no funding! I was on my own financially. All the assets from my years of engineering work and dope dealing went to support my seventeen years of addiction. But I truly held onto the hope that God would provide. I found myself alone and I was becoming isolated again. There was absolutely no going back to my drug of choice: using cocaine intravenously again. I couldn't; I wouldn't! However, I did start drinking once again.
I viewed relationships as being of little importance
Wait a moment, you might be asking yourself; "How authentic was this man's faith that a little loneliness, financial deficit, and rejection would cause him to relapse after four years being sober?" I guess I left out a few facts. Back in my addictive lifestyle, I chose to be alone. I had had the opportunity to be part of other's lives, but I viewed relationships as being of little importance. By ignoring family and friends during the past, I found it almost impossible to get those people back into my life when I now needed them for their love and support. Ah, the lessons we learn as we go through life. It appeared that it was too late to have my loved ones back into relationship with me. Didn't I finally know how to let others be close to me? Was it too late for that to happen? My two marriages were destroyed because I didn't know how to be honest (or chose not to?) with my true feelings and I sure had learned how to keep people distant and not know the real me or even see the pain in my eyes. It was a message that has taken me almost forty years to acknowledge and accept; this defect of character that was nothing more than fear! Anyway, in order for me to deal with these strong Christians that I was going through the seminary with, I presumed wrongly that I needed to numb my angst and self-disappointment when in fact all I really needed to do was turn it over to God. I had to meet others on another level, the level of trusting my feelings to be open to the possibility of hurt. But there was quite a bit I had to discover yet, before I could be honest with my Lord, myself, and others.
When God gets us alone by affliction, heartbreak or temptation, by disappointment, sickness, or by rejection of our intended affections, or by a broken friendship, when He gets us absolutely alone, and we are astonished, and cannot ask even one question, then He begins to explain His intended design for us. If you are going on with God, the only thing that will seem dear to you, and the only thing God intends to be dear to you, is the way He deals with your own soul. There are whole territories of stubbornness and ignorance to be revealed by the Holy Spirit in each one of us, and it can only be done when Jesus gets us alone. Are we alone with Him now, or are we taken up with little finicky thinking, choosy companionship in God's service, or even fastidious ideas about our bodies? Jesus can explain nothing until we get through all the noisy questions of the head and are alone with Him, truly alone, through the path of our hearts in prayer and true and deep reverence. This is the only way that Jesus will give us understanding about who He wants us to truthfully be. Yet, why is it so very difficult to take the chance to be alone with Him to take that journey? It should be the easiest thing we could ever do, nevertheless it takes faith and trust to do so.
Do you really know who you are? In our desperate search to discover our identity, we seek heroes to imitate and emulate; we take bits and pieces of those other people and claim those characteristics as our own. The tragedy is that the person we assemble is not genuine. "Who am I?" you cry as you roam the world looking for yourself. Consider this: there are three of you. There is the person you think you are. There is the person others think you are. Then, there is the person that God knows you are and who you can be through Christ. Why do we make it so difficult on ourselves to BE that person?
So instead of letting down my guard against my fears, I began to drink a couple of times a week as an alternative. Worse yet, I was getting drunk every time I drank, and others whom I didnít even know that cared about me were noticing it. Word started to get back to the Dean of Students, and it wasn't too long before I was to have an intervention. What an embarrassment! I was supposed to be in training to be a shepherd for God's people and here I was not willing to be honest with God. I KNEW that I was prone to addictive behavior, yet I was getting drunk as a compromise between full-fledged relapsing and responsible leadership. I was a walking, talking paradox. I wanted, so much, to be God's servant yet was unable to face the patience, integrity, and tolerance that was needed. I saw the Candidacy committee's rejection as some sort of vengeful way of telling me that I wasn't good enough, holy enough, forgiven enough, maybe not even genuinely saved (Matthew 7:21-23) to be a member of the ELCA's clergy. My perception of the seminary's position concerning my problems was not being addressed as being Grace-filled enough. Boy, if that wasn't being lost in alcoholic/addictive self-pity, then what is? I felt deep down that I had run from God's plan for me for far too long. I sensed an urgency to do well when I had led a life of sin for too, too long. I needed to get on with God's business as soon as possible. I did not realize the working of the Holy Spirit would be done on God's timetable, NOT mine! Again, I was acting like Peter and denying Christís miracles to happen in my life.
When we are in love with our Lord,
obedience doesn't cost us a thing.
When we are in love with our Lord, obedience doesn't cost us a thing. Stagnation in our spiritual life comes when we say we will bear all of our problems ourselves. We cannot. When we are faithful to the total goals of God, the moment we obey Him, we affect others. Are we going to remain loyal in our obedience to God and go through the embarrassment of refusing to be independent, or are we going to take the other line and say, "l will not cost other people anguish?" We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring instant release to the state of our concern for other's involvement in our distress, but then we shall be a grief to our Lord. We have simply to obey our Lord, involve others in our life's dilemmas and to leave all consequences with Him. We need to trust God that we can and should be open to others. Stop the fear of letting others know who you really are. But, I wasn't quite there...yet.
In addition to those developing problems, there were several other difficulties that I was going through which had compounded my emotional overload. In 1999 on St. Patrick's Day, 1 had failed to administer CPR properly to a friend who got struck by a car and was mortally injured as he was trying to cross a busy street. In December of that year, I lost the two men I was sponsoring in Narcotics Anonymous, one to an overdose as he relapsed, and the other to suicide. I mistakenly thought myself responsible for both their sobriety and their spiritual development. Then, the results of my physical examination for my health insurance came back and I found out I was positive for Hepatitis C. I was told that as badly as my liver had been effected throughout the many years of substance abuse, I was given only a 30% chance of surviving more than five years. Needless to say, my spiritual walk was being tested, I let Satan take control through my self-pity and of course my studies had now been compromised. I found myself blaming God and I felt like relapsing. I didn't know how I was ever going to pay my student loans back without finishing my MDiv. Could some kind of lay ministry position be any alternative in my state of confusion? My emotional, spiritual, and mental states were in turmoil and the devil was sure smiling at my incompetence to trust in the Lord and His plans. I was miserably lost and needed faith but could not find it.
I left the seminary in March and moved back to the Detroit area to live with a friend whom I knew to be an active alcoholic. I aimed to drink myself to death. I figured that it wouldn't take too long after my last medical diagnosis. But after 15 months of drinking between a quart and a half a gallon of vodka daily, I let the spiral of alcoholism, which fed my depression, really take hold. It's quite bizarre how depression can feed one's addictive personality and the using will keep the depression so strongly forceful in one's consciousness. The mad cycle will take over one's life, especially one's spiritual identity. I became so angry with myself and the mess I had made of my life that I naturally, but wrongly, blamed God. If I was going to serve God as a shepherd of one of His flocks, why was I tested so intensively? I was in such a state of despair that I could only think of one solution. I was going to overdose on cocaine with such an amount that it would probably kill a horse. I sold my computer to my friend, took forty dollars out of her purse, taped her up with duct tape, so she couldn't call the cops until I was out of the state. I then took off in her car and proceeded to Milwaukee where I was to meet an old acquaintance from my drug dealing days.
As I look back, I feel that I really did want to end it all, but was I in control of my faculties any longer? I was in such an alcoholic stupor that critical thinking wasn't a part of my mental makeup anymore. Satan really had a grip on my mind. I had even searched scripture for validation that I was not worthy of life; I misinterpreted Philippians 1:21-23 and other citations as corroboration for me yearning death. I tried to consider the attitude of one of the Philippians whom Paul wrote to back about 60 AD. I tried to place myself in their shoes and wondered what Paul could have meant when he said: "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the sharing of His sufferings by becoming like Him in His death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:10-11) Imagine if you will the demented state that my theology was in; I was trying to find an acceptable reason for taking my own life. It's amazing the position one can embrace when they take scripture out of context. However, my premature death was not in God's plans for me yet. I had sobered up enough by morning that I went to say goodbye to my dad, before picking up the cocaine. As I talked with him, he could tell something was terribly wrong. I told him I intended to die, I even thought of loading up his deer rifle, but instead, I let him talk me into going to the VA hospital for help.
I was in the VA for eight days before getting arrested for extradition back to Michigan to face charges of Unarmed Robbery and UDAA (taking off in her car without permission). As I sat in the Oakland County jail, I attempted to recall the path I had taken to get there and the resultant prison sentence that would be forthcoming. I needed to trace my life's journey within the shadow of my alcoholism and depression. So much of my past was defined by my alcoholic behavior that to look back in denial of alcohol's grasp on my life would be deficient, and I would not be truthful without its factor in my history. It has been a long and convoluted journey and I have had moments where I attempted recovery through 12-step programs. Yet, I had not worked the process to completion until I landed there in jail awaiting prison. You see, I was supposed to be in the county jail for a year in a plea bargain arrangement, but instead I was sent to prison for nineteen months to fifteen years. Now, I knew that I had to be honest, concise, and open if I was to recover and receive some spiritual healing while in prison. All my miserable past attempts were invalid. I had to start from the beginning, After all, I was quite messed up and I had hit a bottom that I thought I would never get to. No matter how hard one tries to ignore God, He will get your attention, even if you have to go to prison to start paying attention.
Society was justified in sending me to prison. After all, I had done quite a lot of illegal and antisocial behaviors that I was never caught at before, let alone had to live with in my conscience. Maybe I could place myself under the presumption that I had to give society some penance owed. Therefore, I could take the position that my going to prison might be considered as the culmination of a long process of self-destruction. But instead, I grasped the time for what good I could do and to use the time as a very high-quality way to get closer to God and to discern what scripture could tell me about the mysteries of what my life was supposed to be.
Prison is no joyride. It is an evil, demeaning, disgusting, crude environment ...
Prison is no joyride, so don't get me wrong. It is an evil, demeaning, disgusting, crude environment that offers one to make a choice of only two paths: to accept God and His plans for you and thereby discover who you are and are meant to be, or to join the ranks and educate oneself criminally. I chose the first option by the grace of God. I have just looked back at my journal entries for February 2002 and my first impressions of prison are worth noting:
cannot believe the people whom I have to live with for the few years. Men
here are in denial, and are hiding from their true selves. I suppose that
it could be defense mechanisms kicking in, but why act so idiotic just to fit
in? Almost all conversations are hyped up stories from the street, the
gangbanging and the endless war stories. The rude and obnoxious behavior
is another common expression of identity, which I don't understand. The
lack of any manners, the pack-dog mentality, communication by yelling and
hollering (no matter how close to each other the
prisoners are), the constant use of the "N" word, the continuous swearing and cussing, vocabulary so bad that it burns one's ears, the blatant hatred and feigned ignorance; these character flaws are going on every minute. every day.
I can feel no hope with most of these men. What has our society done to foster and cultivate such despair? Is anyone aware of the rampant despondency that
is so much a part of these men? It makes one wonder if there are three different kinds of people: the saved, the mundane, and the
There were 30 or so men from outside the prison gates that greeted us 24 participants with what can only be described as Christian love. I was flabbergasted, to say the least. Why had I not ever before in my life felt this loving compassion? Not in church, not in college nor the seminary, no, not even when I had spent a Winter term in Israel did I ever feel a "belonging" to my faith that was expressed most perfectly by these unknown men. I felt as if we were undergoing a metamorphosis, not knowing where we were headed, nor really caring to object to something that felt so foreign. But what was to come was even more
Reading these journal notes made me look back and remember whom I was when I first came to prison. I was looking at those men in an arrogant fashion, looking for the evil and not the good. Who was I to judge? I have a difficult time remembering how religious I felt I had been. Why did I act that way? I realize now that I was not showing compassion to others, let alone seeing them, as Christ would have.
After I had finished all my requirements for MDOC, I was sent up north to the UP. I had worked a thorough AA 4th and 5th step while incarcerated in Saginaw, but yet there was something missing. I could not fathom what else I had needed to do in order to heal and go forward in my spiritual journey. But, the Lord reveals His plan only when you're ready for enlightenment. I signed up for a Keryx weekend, while being interviewed with Marquette's Assistant Chaplain, even though I wasn't told much about it. I had heard about this experience while attending Prison Fellowship in Saginaw, but other than that, I was not able to find out much about it. I was told that it would be a life-changing event, if I so desired, and I did desire change!
On the last weekend in April I was called-out to go through the Keryx event, and was tremendously excited; after all, being just one of 24 men selected (out of 600 inmates) has a message of personal needs that God was going to address to each one of us. I had let God take the reins so far, so I really did not hold onto any misconceptions or presumptions. This was good. We went Thursday afternoon and was greeted with a welcoming one does not expect to have in prison.
There were 30 or so men from outside the prison gates that greeted us 24 participants with what can only be described as Christian love. I was flabbergasted, to say the least. Why had I not ever before in my life felt this loving compassion? Not in church, not in college nor the seminary, no, not even when I had spent a Winter term in Israel did I ever feel a "belonging" to my faith that was expressed most perfectly by these unknown men. I felt as if we were undergoing a metamorphosis, not knowing where we were headed, nor really caring to object to something that felt so foreign. But what was to come was even more mystifying.
I had never, ever forgiven myself. Who was I to place myself above God?
There were events and behaviors that I had been through that were so reprehensible, that I had never taken the time to work through them. Events like: feeling that I was somehow responsible for being raped as a youngster, paying for two abortions, then leaving both of those fiancťes whom I had gotten pregnant, all my preying on women and my family members, my drug-dealing in death, on and on it went. I thought that maybe I had asked for forgiveness from God for some of these actions, but I knew that I had never, ever forgiven myself. I talked through some of this with my "outside" sponsor, and he wisely directed me to one of the clergy representatives. Between Jim and David, I was able to understand that by not feeling worthy of forgiveness, I was in a sense, playing God. Who was I to place myself above God by thinking He could, would, and did grant me the grace of forgiveness, but I could not? How audacious can one be, as you are actually acting heretical in arrogance by not being as gracious to yourself as God is?
I must say, that when we had a forgiveness ceremony later that day, I just HAD to participate. It was time to get rid of all the shame and guilt feelings that I had used so many times as an excuse to withdraw from God and life and to give me a false reason to relapse into addiction. To have a guilty conscience is a common occurrence. Psychologists may define it as a guilt complex and may seek to rationalize away the sense of guilt; but once this feeling has been awakened through the application of the law of God, no explanation will quiet the insistent voice of conscience. The Bible teaches that Christ cleanses the conscience. To have a guilty conscience cleansed and to be free from its constant accusation is an experience, but it is not the cleansing of the conscience that saves you; it is faith in Christ that saves, and a cleansed conscience is the result of having come into the right relationship with God.
I do believe that at that moment, what I experienced can only be described as being
Born Again! No longer did I
feel as if I was hiding from, running away from, or obstinately refusing to turn my
over to God. I only wanted to know God and His mercy more. I hungered for the
Bread of Life.
I needed to find my identity in Christ Jesus,
my most precious friend! I knew from that moment on, who I really am!
Being born again of the Spirit is a unique work of God, as mystifying as the wind, as extraordinary as God Himself. We do not know where it begins; it is hidden away in the depths of our personal life. Being born again from above is a recurring, continuous, and eternal beginning; a freshness all the time in thinking and in talking and in living, the constant amazement of the life of God. Staleness in our faith is an indication of something out of unity in our relationship with God. "I must do this thing or it will never be done;" that is the first sign of staleness. Are we freshly born this minute or are we stale, raking our minds for something to do, or control? Freshness does not come from our obedience to the Lord, but is a recurring gift from the Holy Spirit; obedience keeps us in the light as God is in the light. We are to guard jealously our bond to God. We need to keep all our life constantly open to Jesus Christ and the renewal He gives us daily. We cannot, nor should not, pretend with Him. Are you drawing the meaning of your life from any other source than God Himself? If you are depending upon anything but Him, you will never know when He is examining your faith upon Him. Being born of the Spirit means much more than we usually take it to mean. It gives us new vision and keeps us completely brand-new for everything we will experience in our lives by the perpetual source of the life of God.
Granted, I still do not know what plans God has for me, but I will no longer have to try to hide from my Lord and Savior. I can honestly say that I want to live now! How often did I try to dispose of the gift of life, in my insolence and addictive behaviors? How could I have been that vain and evil? I now know that regardless of where I was and where others are in their life, God really does care about each and every one of us. We are NOTHING in this world, but to God, we are His CHILDREN. I now know that I can love others, because I can now love myself. After all, "Jesus would rather die than to live without me." How humbling is that statement? Dare to love yourself, please! May you be blessed, Amen.
The only sign that a person is saved is
that they acknowledge through their actions ...
When a person falls short in personal Christian practices, it is nearly always because they have never received anything of a spiritual nature. The only sign that a person is saved is that they acknowledge through their actions, that they have received something from Jesus Christ. By opening people's eyes that they may have turned themselves from darkness to light, that is not salvation; it is conversion (the effort of a roused human being). Unfortunately, the majority of nominal believers are of this sort, their eyes are opened, but they have received nothing. Conversion is NOT regeneration. When a human is born again, they know that it is because they have received something as a gift from Almighty God and not because of their own decision to attempt righteousness. Salvation means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, the remission of sins. In sanctification, the regenerated soul intentionally gives up their right to themselves to Jesus Christ, and identifies themselves totally with God's awareness in other people and their needs. That is what is meant to be saved, to help others find the way to Christ-consciousness so that they may, in turn help others. May this testimony help you, by the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
I have now been paroled for a little over nine months (August 2005). I am patient now, with how God will use me. I am trying to get my parole transferred to Wisconsin so that I can look after my infirm dad, but I need to do this in Godís time, not mine. I still have this burning need to serve Jesus and His bride, the Church. Yet, regardless if I get ordained in the ELCA, it does not matter to me, as much as it used to. I will still be of use to God and to my fellow way-seeker as well. I do not know where yet, but I now have trust. Trust in the Divine nature is that which we all need, in order to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ. May you be so blessed!
... In our own strength we had run far away
Empty hopeless and so afraid
Then like the prophet said
God had made a way.
I love this story in all of its glory
When Jesus came to earth
Came to set the sinners free
I love this old story
'Cause now it's my personal testimony
Jesus He died and He rose
And now He lives inside of me.
Now all my sins they
Have been washed away
His Spirit guides me every night and day
Oh yes there's one more thing,
Someday with Him I'll fly away.
(Lyrics from I Love This Story by Tommy Walker © We Mobile Music CCLI Song No. 3714962)
If you would like to contact Mr. John Meagher, you can write him or email him at these addresses:
4218 Maple Street
PO Box 276
Brown City, MI 48416-0276
If this testimony has blessed you, would you please take a few moments and share with us HOW it has blessed you? Your feedback is very important. Please mention the author of this testimony when you email your comments. Thank you so very, very much! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Special Message: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/Exhortations/f-j/HelpingShareTheMessageOfTheCross.htm
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God; to be at peace with God; to have your sins forgiven; to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity; to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life.
The staff and our ministry supporters so greatly appreciate hearing how God is touching lives for His glory through this outreach. If this ministry has blessed you in some special way, would you please consider taking a brief moment and share your blessing with us? Simply email us at: email@example.com
We truly thank each of you who allow us to publish your testimony, for those who faithfully pray (and fast) for this outreach, for those of you who help support the ministry financially, and for those of you who pass along these testimonies and other ministry writings to others. Especially to prisoners! The part the Holy Spirit has you play is vital in helping win lost souls and being engaged in discipleship, and we can never thank you enough for the labor of love and support you provide on behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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Thank You, and God bless you!