Jesus Did It!
By: Bob & Linda Erb
The title at the top ... that essentially was what I was asked at a crucial time in my life. I'll share more about it later on in my testimony so you can more fully appreciate how I responded to it.
I suppose life is a mystery to all of us at times, and when you really find some answers it can be very exciting and you want to tell others about it. My name is Bob and I certainly have many more 'answers' to find, but life has become very rewarding and meaningful and I want to tell others about it. And I must say without hesitation, that meaning in life has not come because of anything I have accomplished or worked at; it has come as I have been more willing to take an honest look at my own life and my own heart.I grew up in the 'heartland,' on a farm in rural Iowa. I am now 57 years of age, and I can remember when gas was 19 cents a gallon and a bottle of pop was 7 cents. We raised hogs, cattle, and grew corn, oats, and alfalfa. I have many memories of baling hay on hot summer days, and of driving the tractor preparing fields for planting corn. I remember thinking that farmers were special people because we were supplying the rest of the nation with food to eat. I was also raised going to church. We were Mennonites, and church played a major role in our weekly lives. 'Family' was strongly emphasized and we had many gatherings of uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents. I had a good life, always provided and cared for. I also was very sheltered from the rest of the world. One of the opinions I formed growing up was a feeling of self-righteousness. 'We are farmers, we provide for everyone else. I am a Mennonite, we don't divorce, we don't smoke or drink, and we value family.' The self righteous attitude (and really, it is a 'spirit') became a real hindrance later to me as I attempted to become closer to the Lord.
I also remember feeling very insecure as a young boy. I believe my parents loved me the best they knew how, but I never felt valued as an individual with unique and legitimate goals and desires. I always looked to people to do right by me. Even as I write this, I realize even more than ever how I used people by demanding that they treat me right, and when they didn't, I had great resentment. I find it interesting that much later in my life, when God brought me to a pastor who really saw inside of me, he gave me a scripture from Jeremiah 29:11, which says,
'For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.'
God's thoughts toward me are always good, I do not need to look to people to confirm who I am, but I didn't believe that growing up. Later in life I came to a Christian Fellowship and the pastor I mentioned earlier, Gene Sullivan, did a short teaching on 'the hole in your soul.' Everyone has a void in their soul early in life and looks for a way to fill that void. Be assured that the devil will be right there with his suggestion on how to fill that void. My void was feeling like I wasn't being treated right. The devil showed me rebellion and said, 'Here, try this, it will make you feel justified.' I took it on with determination, and you know what, it became so closely attached to me that later in life when I tried to get rid of it, it was quite a battle. These attitudes are really, in truth, actual spirits and they don't leave easily. More about this later...
As I said, church was a dominant part of our weekly lives, and as I look back, I believe my parent's greatest desire for us was that we would be Christians, and be faithful Mennonite church goers. I had two brothers, one seven years younger than me and another ten years younger. As a young boy I spent most of my time by myself on the farm with no one my age to play with and my dad was busy farming. We always went to church and Sunday school on Sunday morning, and again to church on Sunday evening. This is where all of my social life was besides school. Church attendance was our spiritual security and we were very faithful. It was the only, and certainly the best way that I knew to Christianity.
When I was fifteen or sixteen years old, something happened which was totally unacceptable in my culture. I started to ask questions. Spiritual questions. Questions about God, about prayer, about church, and more. When you are a Mennonite and you have a secure and safe life, how can you question it? My family did not know how to relate to me in my quest for answers. I think some of them could not perceive anything good outside the boundaries of what they had already experienced, and some of them (I'm talking about my extended family and friends in our community) did not want to look outside those boundaries. WE HAD NEVER LEARNED OR MADE AN EFFORT TO TALK ABOUT QUESTIONS OR ISSUES OUTSIDE THE BOUNDARIES OF WHAT WAS COMFORTABLE OR FAMILIAR TO US. Also, something was going on inside of me when I sat in church and listened to the messages being presented, whether in preaching, music, teaching or whatever. I continually questioned, 'Do we really believe these messages being presented (for instance, Jesus performing miracles, the Holy Spirit falling at Pentecost, faith that works by love, and on and on), or do we simply feel justified sitting in church hearing about them? These questions grew as the years went by for me and I developed an undeniable desire for the truth that I could experience personally. I was baptized by sprinkling with water as a young teenager, but later I was still searching for something that truly moved me and meant something to me personally, something worth living and dying for.
My late teen years and early to mid twenties were a continual search for truth. I was really rebellious and self righteous toward what I saw as hypocrisy in the church. I felt like they talked about God and Jesus, but I didn't see that He was really REAL in their lives so I didn't want any part of it. I spent two years in college, then two and a half years of community service in Cleveland, Ohio, as part of a Mennonite Church service organization. Again, serving and doing with no real spiritual guidance or commitment. In fact, this is when I really tried the world's ways: partying, drinking, rock and psychedelic music (it was the early 70's). But all the while I knew it wasn't what I was really looking for and it certainly wasn't satisfying. In 1973, I moved back to Iowa and held a variety of odd jobs, but I did not resume attending church. No thank you. An unexpected thing soon happened though.
WHAT IS TRUTH? THE BOMB GETS DROPPED ON ME
Around 1973 or 74 two friends of mine from the past came to visit me on separate occasions. They each told me about experiences they had recently of encountering the Lord and being filled with His Spirit. They were sincere, they were not forceful, and they just wanted to share with me. I remember listening to them; I was glad they had found something that was meaningful to them, but I still did not see anything in it for me, because (as I see it now) I was actually blinded by my rejection of what I had seen in the church. Then in 1975, I started asking specific questions about prayer. The question in my mind was, 'If there really is a personal God, what good is he if you can't actually talk to him, and he talks to you?' Surely, I thought, that is what prayer is. I had never experienced a personal God in church who you can actually communicate with.
The one day I will never forget is when I pulled into the driveway where I lived, and a totally unexpected thought came into my mind. It was so clear and so 'to the point' that I could not escape dealing with it. I believe now that it was the voice of the Spirit of Jesus. It said, 'You love the truth... WHAT IF, just WHAT IF this Jesus whom you see so misrepresented in the church... WHAT IF He really was the TRUTH in spite of how people represent him; what would you do with that?'
That question went deep into my soul and it tested everything I stood for. Even before I answered it I knew that it was the turning point of my life. After a few moments, I said, 'Yes, I would accept Him.'
IMMEDIATELY I had a conviction to make all of my relationships right and to repent to anyone whom I had wronged. First of all my parents, whom I talked to and apologized for my angry attitudes and responses. I talked to anyone else I could think of also, and I contacted my two friends and started attending the Bible study they were in. I wanted everything God had for me. It made no sense to me to go part way and not ask for EVERYTHING He had for me. I sought the fullness of His Spirit and received it; I sought the gift of speaking in tongues and received it. Not only that, but I did all the reading and studying I could to get more understanding of these gifts. I loved going to all the meetings I could where the Spirit-filled life was explained and celebrated.
In early 1978, I attended nine weeks of Bible school in New York, and upon returning to Iowa, I started attending a Spirit-filled church. I was very active there for five years and had many wonderful times and relationships. Something I thought about a lot during my times of reading and studying, and just reflecting on life, was how people lived and related to each other in the early church in the Book of Acts. I hoped that the church I was attending could become more like the early church, but I saw that it was not going to happen. I also saw that it was not going to happen in the Mennonite church. I went through some years of frustration, wondering if the early church experience in the New Testament was just a thing of the past, or if I was justified in hoping to experience it for myself. It really seemed to me that Jesus would desire for all of his people to live a life of openness with each other, being honest about your true heart's position, especially in SPEAKING THE TRUTH TO EACH OTHER IN LOVE.
Eph 4:25 says, '...speak every man truth with his neighbor for we are members one of another.'
Now I did see a lot of care in the Mennonite church, people really did help their neighbors in times of physical need, but I never did see people getting involved with each other in problems of the heart, you know, helping each other with wrong attitudes, and resentments in relationships, and most of all, getting understanding to these things. I think people just didn't know how to do this, perhaps didn't really want to know how. Perhaps not everyone was in that boat; I just knew that I wanted to know how, and it wasn't happening for me. I was having some relational problems. For instance, two separate relationships with women that I felt deeply for, each fell apart, and I was VERY satisfied to never start another one. It was not until later that I could really see my part in these relational problems. I was not a good (honest) communicator because I could not really see the truth about myself. True communication is a sacrifice, Hebrews 13:16 says, 'But to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.'
And you know, I wasn't fulfilled in my relationship with the Lord either; it seemed to be getting stale, and I didn't know what to do about it. I grew pretty disillusioned in my search for the New Testament church experience, closer relationships, and I became pretty selfish. I spent a lot of time by myself on the golf course and going on vacations. But I always had a desire to be closer to the Lord.
As I said, I enjoyed taking vacations, and after several years of spiritual famine, I decided to travel to Colorado to visit some friends who had moved there from my hometown. We had once enjoyed good spiritual fellowship, so I gave them a call. It was good to talk to Larry on the phone and he informed me that they had just moved to Sheridan, Wyoming and were a part of a Christian fellowship pastored by Gene Sullivan. I was very amazed because I remembered attending a program near my hometown years earlier when Gene did a motorcycle stunt program, followed by a message about following Jesus and especially emphasizing to young people the importance of giving up drugs. It was a stirring and impressive program but I never envisioned Gene pastoring a fellowship. I completed my travel plans and flew into Sheridan about 8:00 PM one August night in 1992. I WILL NEVER FORGET walking into their house and sitting down at the dining room table. THERE MUST HAVE BEEN FIFTEEN OR TWENTY PEOPLE SITTING AROUND THE TABLE, EATING, FELLOWSHIPPING, SPEAKING THE TRUTH TO ONE ANOTHER, AND ENJOYING IT!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!! When you least expect it! I have never felt so 'at home' in a place where I had never been before! I stayed for three or four days, totally soaking it all in; then I had to return home. Oh, and by the way, Gene's wife, Ceci, told me about a young woman in the fellowship who was in the process of moving to Sheridan, and she thought I might be interested in meeting her. I assured her I had no interest beyond simply meeting her. I was totally content to be like the apostle Paul, involved in ministry but single the rest of my life.After returning to Iowa, I soon started thinking about a return trip to visit in Sheridan, and continued to seek the Lord as to whether he had a purpose for me in Iowa. I visited the fellowship in Sheridan in October of 1992, and spent another great time of fellowship for five days. I met the lady who Ceci had told me about, her name was Linda, but of course there was nothing going on there, and I returned to Iowa, more desirous than ever to move to Sheridan. I sought the Lord continually, and I finally felt that He released me to move by showing me that nothing was really happening in my relationships where I was at. I knew that relationships were the most important thing to Him. Oh, a humorous sidelight...I remember telling my brother in Iowa before I moved that I believed I would meet a woman in the fellowship in Wyoming that I would marry. Why would I say that? Besides, I was already forty two. I guess I still did have somewhat of a desire.
I was self-employed, had a window cleaning business, and after moving to Sheridan in November of that year, I had to return to close out the business. In the meantime I got somewhat settled in Wyoming, and continued to enjoy the great fellowship. Several people in the fellowship thought that Linda and I would make a great couple so to be considerate toward them, I sat down and visited with Linda and we had a good talk and that was it. HOWEVER...for reasons I don't totally recall, we decided to have a second visit, this time her friend Alice had to move the ironing board so we could see each other across the room. A few minutes into our second visit something very mysterious began to happen. In Ephesians 5:31-32, Paul talks about the relationship of a man and a wife and he says, 'This is a great mystery.' We both felt it and we couldn't stop it. When you least expect it! A few days later on Thanksgiving Day, we had another talk and we acknowledged what was happening in our relationship. It was clear the Lord was drawing us together. I could never have REMOTELY IMAGINED how God would use Linda in the near future to answer my need to clean up my own heart of undesirable (sinful) attitudes, resentments, and prejudices that hindered my closeness to the Lord and to his people. THE LORD'S PEOPLE ARE TRULY HIS BODY ON THIS EARTH.
Linda had been abused, physically and emotionally in two previous marriages. She had already raised a family, and she did not need to be in another abusive relationship. With the self righteousness and selfishness and lack of communication I was bringing into the relationship, how was it ever going to work? I know it wouldn't have worked without a committed Body of believers who were willing to be involved and speak the truth in love to each of us. We both needed a lot of help. I often didn't know what to say to her; I would get angry, so I withdrew. I needed help. She was sure she was about to be abused again so she lashed out. She needed help. I knew my family would not understand me marrying a divorced woman so I was deceitful to them about it. I needed help. She felt threatened by my family and was sure they would reject her. She needed help. We were married in 1993 and with much counsel, love and care, we have steadily grown in our relationship and her zeal for the Lord has been a great encouragement and stimulus to me. I hope that through our experiences we can also provide understanding and support to others with relational needs. I still cannot comprehend some of the things that Gene and Ceci have gone through in their walks with the Lord, but it has truly worked a deep selflessness and care in them that they are now able to help people like Linda and I. Only when a person has been imparted character by the Holy Spirit, through the way of the cross, can he likewise impart the things of the Spirit to others.
I talked earlier about the spirits that I took on as a young boy. They 'helped' fill the void then, but anger in particular really became a problem in my marriage, and other relationships as well. I believe rebellion was the root, but I still lashed out in anger when I felt frustrated. I still felt justified. And you know, I would still feel justified to this day, if not for Linda, and the Body, reflecting the truth to me about my anger. Recently, as we were traveling to a ministry meeting, the Lord had been working on Linda also, increasing her patience and love. She and I were talking and the issue of my anger came up. The Lord really helped me to hear. Sometimes we really need Him to help us hear. Especially when it is about our own hearts. In my earlier church experiences I had never learned, or really had examples, of how to get in touch with my own conscience and to be convicted of wrong thoughts and opinions and harboring resentments and accusations. Like I said earlier, my self righteousness really made it difficult to see my need for the Holy Spirit to help me in these areas. I began to see my own anger and how I had hurt other people with it. I began to cry and all of a sudden it no longer mattered if I had been treated wrongly or not. All I could see was how I had hurt other people with my anger. I feel like my heart has been softer ever since then and even though I sometimes respond wrongly, it is easier to recognize what is really happening. An evil spirit is talking to me and he is no longer welcome. For the first time Acts 24:16 has really become meaningful to me. It says:
'And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.'
I want my life to be a continual walk of repentance from these wrong responses. I can't thank the Lord enough for a wife who is a loving help-mate, and I can't emphasize enough the importance of being willing to take an honest look at our own hearts. Luke 17:20-21 says,
'The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.'
His kingdom really is the rule of His Spirit in our hearts and, thankfully, it is no longer so easy for me to deny and resist Him in how I treat my wife and all of God's children.
'....The purpose of Satan...to make us fools that are filled with CONTENTION, TROUBLES, WOE, and HARDSHIP, that are filled with SHAME and GRIEF! He bites like a serpent and stings like an adder... 'My mother had been married before my entrance into this world. Her husband, whom she had her first two children with, was killed. My brother is five years older than I and my sister is twelve years older. My parents were both alcoholics. I don't remember much until I was about five years old. I remember hiding under the bed when they fought; it was violent and I was a fearful little girl. My sister went after my dad with a butcher knife, and there was a presence of great hatred, anger, and even murder in our home. My mother lost her mother at three years of age, and I'm sure she had no real example of mothering to follow. My father, at age twelve, walked in on his father, who had just hung himself. Both of my parents were raised in the South where great violence and hatred were all around them. Racism was rampant back then. There appeared to be a long history of family curses.
By the time I was about six, my parents quit drinking and we started going to church as a family. We never talked about the past at all. We pretended like everything was great. I remember how we all learned to become very religious and pretentious at the Southern Baptist church we attended. The church put my parents into leadership right away, but at home we were angry, bitter, and at each other's throats. At church, we were this happy Brady Bunch family and it appeared that people didn't see the truth; we all denied the obvious. I believe this is called INSANITY. My parents didn't have any peace, righteousness or joy that the Word says we can have if we are walking in a right relationship with Jesus. I learned well how to act or not act based on where I was and who I was around. I became a great pretender just like the rest of my family. My parents did not have pastors or Godly examples to help them overcome their anger and hatred or deal with their offended hearts. I now understand that my parents were taught by the precepts of men. 'WHEREFORE THE LORD SAID, FORASMUCH AS THIS PEOPLE DRAW NEAR ME WITH THEIR MOUTH AND LIPS DO HONOUR ME, BUT HAVE REMOVED THEIR HEART FAR FROM ME, AND THEIR FEAR TOWARD ME IS TAUGHT BY THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' (Isaiah 29: 13). This is the religious spirit that was imparted to me. Outwardly conforming but inwardly I continually believed the lie of going to church, paying tithes, and being one way at church and another way at home. This was the doctrine of ONCE SAVED - ALWAYS SAVED with NO character change.As I grew older I became more and more deceived. I would watch my mom and dad lie to each other, and hiding and lying became very normal to me. I was drawn to boys at the age of thirteen. I would sneak out of the house at night to be with my friends. I was such a needy empty lost teen. I met someone at the age of fourteen who showed me some attention. Guess what? He started verbally and physically abusing me. There were no warning signs for me; this seemed normal, and it was what my parents did to each other. My friend would get mad at me and say, 'Why do you let John treat you that way?' My lie and excuse was that he was just teasing. This relationship led me to get pregnant at fifteen years old. I went to my mom about three months later and told her I thought I was pregnant. She said, 'Oh honey, you can't be pregnant, you might have an ulcer like me.' This ulcer was growing inside of me, I told her. My mom and dad called John's parents and said their son got our daughter pregnant and he needs to marry her. We were not even dating anymore. This is how my marriage started. His family were alcoholics too. Sound familiar? Six months later a beautiful baby girl was born. It was like playing house for me, and I poured my life into my baby.
Soon after her birth I began to feel dizzy and nauseous. I went to the doctor for my three month check-up and found out I was pregnant again. I was in shock. I was so ignorant. I was going to be a mom again at seventeen with two babies. John was dating other girls and he was never at home. He reminded me that he only married me because I was pregnant, so don't expect anything more. I poured my life into taking care of my children, and my mom would come over and take us shopping and help us the best she could. I was very dependent on her. I looked to her to meet our needs and she did. In 1968 Mom became sick, was hospitalized, and ended up having a heart attack and dying. She was only 54 years old. My children were two and three years old, and I was devastated. I wanted to commit suicide, but I knew my children had no one but me. My hatred began to really manifest. I was filled with self-pity, and I was so lost because my mom was always there for me. I blamed God for allowing Mom to die. I took on the spirits of vengeance, anger, and hatred; from then on I was on a path of destruction like never before. I started having affairs with men, married and single. I still was a needy, lonely, lost soul trying to meet the void in my soul. Two years later I found out I was pregnant again. John and I were separated at the time, but we had slept together. We decided to get back together for the sake of the children. It lasted for two years, and he left me for another woman.
My Greatest Fear Came Upon Me Seeing What It Looks Like For Someone To Go InsaneA few months later I was introduced to another guy, and we moved in together. Here I am repeating history again. Gary had two girls, and I had my three children. Gary was nine years older than me, and he was an alcoholic and drug addict. He did hold down a job and supported us. I explained to the kids that at least he helps us and supports us. Gary was very oppressive and angry and he had a hard time with my kids. There were jealousies; he defended his kids and I defended mine. I manipulated him into marrying me by telling him I was going to leave him if he would not marry me. My motive was to make sure my kids and I would be taken care of. I was so selfish, hidden, and deceitful. Things went from bad to worse. I felt like I was going insane. As the kids became teens, they really started to rebel against Gary's and my control. I was also very stressed with my job, and in the midst of all this I got a call from my dad's sister that my dad had snapped and had a nervous breakdown. They had locked him up in a psychiatric hospital. My sister and I flew to Alabama, and we walked in on a shocking, heart-breaking sight. They had Dad shackled to his bed. He did not know who we were. When someone snaps and loses their mind, they take on an extra strength and he had kicked an orderly across the room. Dad had remarried a few years after my mother died, and Katherine had told him she was going to divorce him because he was not ambitious enough. The doctor asked us to sign for him so he could be given shock treatments, or he would die. They had him in a lockup unit for the mentally sick. I remember praying, 'DEAR GOD, WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?' I hated men, my own dad; I was selfish, filled with usury, my mom died with no answers, and now my dad? My greatest fear came upon me seeing what it looks like for someone to go insane. My selfish life passed before me and for the first time in my life I prayed, 'God if you are listening to me, would you please give my dad another chance to live? I will serve you and love you all the rest of my life the best that I know how. If you are there would you please show me?'
I felt a peace come over me at that time...I sought the Lord and he delivered me from all of my fears. The doctor came in and said they would move Dad out of that unit. I felt the presence of HELL in that place. 'Faithful is He who called you and He will keep His word.' God did a miracle on our behalf and Dad's. He woke up after they performed the treatments. He had been totally out of his mind for four weeks, and he knew who we were. He started crying. Because Dad had been on his death bed, my brother Swain had also come. The Lord had showed Himself strong on my family's behalf, and Dad was now walking around the hospital praising God that he was alive. Dad went back to Katharine for a short time, but ended up moving to Los Angeles to be close to us. He went back into a V.A. hospital, struggling again with depression, a very familiar family curse. He finally came to live with us. I had found a church to attend; I wanted to live my life for the Lord. Gary and I did not have a good marriage and he was not interested in serving the Lord. He would only let me go to church on Sunday mornings. I still did not have women in my life to help me overcome and deal with how to love my children or my husband rightly. I outwardly conformed to overcome, but I was still very bitter on the inside. The pastor saw my zeal to serve the Lord, so he put me in children's ministry. I didn't even have authority in my own children's lives let alone other peoples' kids. I really wanted to serve the Lord the best way I could.
Going back to church reminded me of the church my parents took me to. I still felt lonely in church, no one would get close or be open about the things they struggled with, such as everyday issues and teenagers. I was very controlling with my own daughter. I was watching this young beautiful girl become very needy, starting to become seductive just like I did at her age. Looking at her was me all over again. She had a boy friend at fifteen years old, and he was nineteen. She would sneak off to see him. She came to me and told me she thought she was pregnant. Gary wanted to send her to a Catholic home, and my mother-in-law wanted her to have an abortion. Her boyfriend wanted to marry her so this is what they did. They had a lot of the same issues that we did. My middle son started smoking marijuana when he was about fifteen. The spirit of drugs and drinking was very familiar with my children. My youngest son watched his sister and brother get into trouble so he tried to stay out of trouble. My marriage was a continual struggle, as I wanted to serve the Lord and Gary did not want any part of it. We were both very miserable and I wanted to get counseling and help for our marriage. When I went to my pastor for direction, the counsel was to fast and pray and Gary would come to Jesus. The church was reinforcing my witchcraft and control. I had a terrible fear of being fat anyway, and fasting only made me thinner and thinner. I was already used to dealing with my out of control life by starving myself. The church told me I could not separate myself from Gary because God hated divorce, but the more I prayed the worse things got. We were living in lies and pretense and were always fighting. I asked God how He could be pleased with how we were living. Amos 3:3 says, 'How can two walk together except they agree?' We did not agree on anything.
A few years back we had met a man named Gene Sullivan who was a traveling evangelist at the time. My son-in-law had introduced us to him. Gene and his team had come over and we had food and fellowship from noon until midnight; it was so powerful. Gary and I lost contact with Gene for a couple of years. In the meantime, my daughter and her husband had divorced, and for a six month period I remember praying every morning that Gene would get in contact with us again. The phone rang December of 1987. When you least expect it! Gene called to tell us that he had remarried and that he and his wife would be going on a ministry trip to Hawaii. When he said that they wanted to stop and see us I was thrilled! My middle son Jeff was in a drug rehab program. He was given a thirty day suspension because he did not want to cut his hair shorter. The very day Gene and Ceci got into town this happened. Ceci was the most humble, sincere woman I had ever met. She was giving me her testimony; she had quite an eventful past as well. She was ten years younger than me, and her love for Jesus was so apparent. Gene, Ceci, and I had such a great time of fellowship. Gene and Ceci both expressed that they would love to take Jeff back to Colorado with them. Rick, the associate pastor, was going to open a single men's home to disciple men, and was also starting a lawn service so the men could learn how to serve in the community. They said Jeff could join them. I was so moved in my heart that this couple had such a love and care in their hearts for my son. I will never forget that as long as I live. That night I felt Jesus was there with us in Gene and Ceci's presence. For the first time in my life I felt a new hope that my life could really turn around. The next day Gene and Ceci took me out to lunch, and Gene gave me a word from God that shook me greatly! He said that my praying for Gary to get saved and God would take him to heaven was dangerous. I was not in a right spirit to be praying that way. I wanted to be free of living with a man who was anti-christ in his heart. I wanted to be free to just love and serve the Lord, and I was deceived about what I was praying. I was in total shock as Gene was giving me this word from the Lord because I had not shared this with anyone. It put a fear of God in me to hear this word when I had not shared this with anyone. This man of God could read my mail. He shared that I needed to repent to the Lord and have FAITH that God was seeing all that was going on in this situation. God did a real work in my life over the next several months. I repented to the Lord for my wicked heart of hatred, anger, and murder. I repented to Gary also. I started serving Gary and loving him the way the Lord showed me to. For the first time in my life I had a joy that came from the Lord. A few months later I received a book that Gene wrote on my behalf called 'SANCTIFICATION UNTO HOLINESS.'' It changed my life.
As time went on Gary became more and more uncomfortable with me. The Lord helped me to love Gary no matter how he treated me. Gary's true heart came out by then, and he said that he hated me but he felt like he could not live without me. He said I was like a bad addiction. We both felt like we wanted to sell our house and go our separate ways and see what happens... The Lord released me as Gary divorced me. Dad and I moved to Colorado where my oldest son Jeff was with NEW LIFE MESSENGERS. I felt like God was giving me a whole new life to start over with. My youngest son, Cordell, had just graduated from high school and wanted to stay in California. My life started over for me at forty years old. I still had a lot of regrets for the pain and sorrow my children had to endure because of my idolatry and looking to man to meet my needs. I was single for five years, and during this time the Lord put me in authority over a single women's ministry home. My attitudes still came up with these women just as they did with my own children. John 3:21 says 'but he that doeth truth cometh to the light that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God.' The Word is full of instruction and reproof as a way of life. I did not always love instruction. Lying was very familiar to me.My dad was restored to a life of giving and receiving love. He was truly resurrected from the dead. He had a genuine born-again experience with the Lord. He went back to Alabama with a friend in our ministry and repented to his family for being such a hypocrite and wrongly reflecting the Spirit of Jesus to them. He had been so hard in his heart before his experience with the Lord. I had a brand new dad. Before he went to be with the Lord he was loving people, and giving them gifts; he was so soft in his heart. I never knew that kind of dad growing up. The last three years of his life Dad really lived. He lived to please Jesus. My dad left a legacy of faith and love that it is never too late to change as long as there is breath in us. My dad had seen my destructive lifestyle and my children being emotionally abused as they were growing up. I even had my nose broken twice. A miracle was about to happen. When you least expect it!
A man in our fellowship, Larry, had a friend who was coming to visit. He was seeking the Lord on some changes that he wanted to make in his life. He was from Iowa. His name was Bob. A few months down the road we would sit and fellowship in the Lord.... He was a nice single guy that had NEVER been married. He was in his forties. I found myself drawn to him, but I thought: What are you doing, Linda? All my other relationships were because of usury and lust. I really tried to stuff what was going on in my heart. The Spirit reminded me of my prayers a few years back. Two things I would pray was that I had such a desire to be a part of a body of believers that lived like the book of Acts.
Acts 2:44 says, 'And all that believed were together and had all things in common: and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men as every man had need... and they continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.'
The second desire was that some day the Lord would bring me a Godly man that loved the Lord and loved my children and we would be in ministry together. The word says 'no good thing will He withhold to them that walk uprightly.' I just started crying, saying, 'Thank you Jesus...' My dad had such a desire for me to be married and loved, he shared this with me a couple of months before he went to be with the Lord. Dad shared one night at the dinner table how he was so thankful that the Lord had brought someone into my life that loved me and loved the Lord. Dad went to be with the Lord a few months later. We celebrated his Resurrected Life that he experienced the last three years of his life.Bob and I got married in 1993. The first year of our marriage was good. Soon, though, we started having a lot of conflict. We had come from such different cultures and our patience with each other was being tested, especially in the area of finances. He had a drive to 'get ahead' and pay bills, and I liked to spend money (fear of the future and getting my needs met). I was compulsive and he was practical. We both started having a lot of evil imaginations toward each other. I was not open with Bob about what motivated me so that he could help me. I would dupe him into getting what I wanted. He didn't know what to do and would get offended with me. Because we both came from a 'religious' background, we did not go deep to get understanding about our own hearts and offenses. We both felt so justified. We did a lot of accusing and excusing. I had a friend named Chris whom the Lord brought into my life many years ago. I often despised her because she was so self righteous (never looking at myself). I'll never forget getting a call one day, telling me that Chris was dying of cancer. That really hit me, and I started looking at how I had not loved her rightly. Later at the hospital, I was crying at her feet, asking her to forgive me for how I had despised her and condemned her in my own heart. That was a turning point for me, to really look at my own self righteous spirit. Chris forgave me and asked me to forgive her as well. I said, 'Lord, help me to love rightly. Never again do I want to have to repent to someone on their death bed for not loving them rightly and looking to help them to overcome.' I was blessed to be able to bring her home and help care for her until shortly before she died a couple of months later. I was able to repent to Bob in a new and sincere way also and our relationship started changing.
I Would Go To Church Every Sunday And Would Go To The Altar And Cry And Say, "I Am Sorry." Yet I Never Felt Forgiven.
II Corinthians 4:1-2, says. 'Therefore seeing we have this ministry as we have received mercy we faint not. But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully: but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.'
I was so familiar with lying, for years it vexed my conscience. The Word says, 'For Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death.' (2 Cor. 7:10)
I now have understanding that I would go to church every Sunday and would go to the altar and cry and say I am sorry. Yet I never felt forgiven. WHY??? Because I still loved being in control of my life and everyone else's. I was walking in craftiness, deceit, and pretense. The purpose of REPENTANCE is to cleanse us from sin and to bring us back relationally to God the Father and living together in harmony, in love, and enjoying each other as a result of relating in SPIRIT and TRUTH. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. It was the Lord Jesus who took a 78-year-old man, my dad, who had lived all of his life in selfishness and enabled him to repent.Also, just a few months ago, in April of 2008, I heard from my son Jeff again. He had walked away from the Lord over ten years ago. It had been ten years since I had seen him. I got a call from a doctor in Las Vegas that Jeff had been in a scuffle with the police. She said that he needed surgery, but he was refusing it until he talked to me. The doctor told me that if Jeff did not have surgery that night he could die. She said that he had perforated intestines due to a blow to the stomach. She said he is afraid that he will have to have a colostomy. I called Jeff and prayed with him on the phone. I told him to put his life back in Jesus' hands and have the surgery. Bob called him and cursed the spirit of death from him. After surgery the doctor called and said it was bad. There were feces everywhere, and he was being kept on a ventilator in ICU. They kept the wound open to try to drain the poisons that were throughout his body; he was in critical condition. I flew to Las Vegas; my youngest son, Cordell, was already there and he tried to warn me how bad Jeff looked. I walked in and lost it for a few minutes. There were tubes everywhere, it was truly the most painful thing I had ever experienced. I started praying in the spirit, and I said, 'devil, you are NOT having my son. Jesus paid the price for every sin my son has committed. I curse the spirit of death in JESUS NAME!!!' I prayed Isaiah 54:17: "No weapon that is formed against Jeff shall prosper." Jeff needed a mother in Faith. I anointed him with oil. I said 'Jeff, I am here. If you can hear me, squeeze my hand'. He did. It was so powerful. Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
Jeff was burning up with a fever of 105 and his white blood cell count was 41,000 when it should only be between 5 and 10,000. Gene and the body were praying for him and Gene prayed, 'We make choices in our lives that shorten our lives, but if you still have work for Jeff on this earth, we pray that the white blood cell count would go down and You would perform a miracle'. By the next day it went down to 18,000 and a couple of days later it just kept going down. Jeff woke up a few days later. To make a long story short, God did a miraculous healing with Jeff. Before this happened, Jeff had been living a destructive lifestyle, living on the streets. He had been doing drugs, and he had to appear in court. Jeff healed rapidly and when he went to court, the Lord's mercy was with him. He only had to pay a fine, and got no jail time. When the devil meant it for evil, the LORD JESUS in His Mercy gave Jeff another chance.
The word says in Matt. 12, 'A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified and by thy words thou shall be condemned.'
I am so thankful to have godly people in my life that will reflect the truth. The day of turning for me was when God sent a PROPHET into my life to reflect my witchcraft when I was praying for Gary to get saved and die, so I could be free. What if I would have not received the Man of God that was sent to me? My dad, my children?
Proverbs. 10:17 says: 'He who heeds instruction is in the way... and is a way for others... He who refuses instruction is a stray from the way... and is a destruction for others.''
'And this is the confidence we have in Him that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (1 John 5:14-15)
PLEASE HELP SHARE THE BEST NEWS GOD HAS FOR EVERY PERSON!
"And this gospel of the
died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
(Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).
Consider how many children in "all the nations" have never heard YET what Jesus accomplished for THEM at the cross? PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS TO THE LITTLE CHILDREN!
To help us share the Best News every person needs to hear on this planet, randomly click FOR JESUS on just three (3) of the JESUS DID IT! links below. It will take just a few moments of your time. Please - that's all you are asked to do. God will reward you! (Of course, be highly encouraged to forward one or more of these video clips to those who may have never heard what Jesus did for them on the cross ... or may need to be re-reminded).
JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT!
For anyone living in the continental U.S. who would like 50 FREE copies of JESUS DID IT! to be made available to others, simply email us requesting them and provide us your mailing address. We'll be glad to send them to you, as long as ministry funds allow.
Our email: firstname.lastname@example.org
JESUS DID IT! - or - JESUS DID IT!
(Please paste one of the above links onto your Facebook page - website - blog - video; etc.)
Let God Use Your Salvation Testimony!
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: email@example.com
A Special Message: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/Exhortations/f-j/HelpingShareTheMessageOfTheCross.htm
Ceci Sullivan was at one time married to a serial killer. Here is her incredible testimony: HE SENT A MAN TO FREE ME
"If You KNEW What
Truth Is ... What Would You DO With It?"
"If You KNEW What Truth Is ... What Would You DO With It?"
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Precious Testimoniesis supported financially by those God directs to sow into this ministry. We ask each person reading this to please ask God on an on-going basis if He would have you sow a financial gift to this evangelistic outreach of His - trust that He will clearly communicate His will to you in the matter - then simply be obedient. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the current financial needs of this outreach, or any other questions you may have.
For convenience, you can simply click on the secure Pay Pal donate button below if you want to donate by credit card. Otherwise, you can send your precious gift to:Precious Testimonies, P.O. Box 516, Jenison, MI 49429.
Precious Testimoniesis a non-denominational 501-C-3 evangelistic ministry, and financial love offerings to this ministry are tax-deductible for those who qualify. A financial summary can be viewed by clicking on the following link: Financial Summary.
Thank You, and God bless you!
Precious Born Again Christian Testimonies
Inspiring Hope & Encouragement Christian Testimonies |
Precious Christian Messages
| Weekly Ministry Encourager Archives | Index
Copyright ' Precious Testimonies. 1998-2008 All rights reserved
Like This Page? Send it to a Friend!.