(By: Linda Padgett)

Growing up, we were never a religious family. But there was a small Baptist Church a couple of blocks from where we lived and on occasion I walked to attend Sunday school and services there. I was probably about 9 or so. It wasn't long before I answered a call to go forward and receive Jesus as my Savior. And even though I meant it with the heart of a child, nothing of consequence happened and life went on.

In 1972, at the age of 15, I quit school and got married. Marrying at such a young age resulted in an atmosphere of isolation, boredom and loneliness. While my husband worked, I stayed home all day alone with no way to go anywhere. 

My friends were all still in school and being married didn't allow for those friendships any longer. My new husband's family were either practicing Jehovah's Witnesses (JW's) or involved enough with them to believe the tenets of that sect. I was inexperienced with religion and they were eager to 'share' theirs. So out of loneliness, boredom and a craving to fit in with my husband's family, I called my new sister in law and asked for a 'study.'  In the summer of 1973, both my husband and I were baptized into the Jehovah's Witness sect.

Several years went by with me believing I was 'in the truth' (a JW term). Then we started our own family. Our son was born in 1978, followed by our daughter in 1979. Like an obedient JW wife & mother, I faithfully attended the Kingdom Hall (equivalent to a Christian church), and as my babies got a little older, I studied Watchtower (WT) publications with them. My husband had stopped attending meetings (church services) within a few short years of baptism. He realized way before I did that they were a works oriented sect, making it next to impossible for the average working man. But I persevered in an effort to get me and my babies through the great tribulation and into paradise. However, it was so repetitive that I would go for awhile, then slack off, then go, then slack off (not the ideal JW). 

As my babies turned into toddlers, then school age, I decided it was time to get serious about what I was being taught and what I was teaching my children. In an effort to really dig in, I started paying close attention to what the Watchtower Society (WTS) was really teaching. It wasn't long before I began noticing discrepancies that were difficult to explain. We were repeatedly admonished that doubts were a reflection of Satanic influence, hence our own fault, that nothing was EVER the fault of the Watchtower Society. The elders were no help, they couldn't answer my questions or put my doubts to rest. This was the beginning of several years in a spiritual void. I stopped teaching my children from WT literature and I stopped field service (what they call going from door to door to speak to unsuspecting people about JW beliefs). I couldn't in good conscience teach others (neither my children nor non-JW's) what I myself wasn't fully convinced of. Eventually I stopped attended meetings too. 

As the years passed, there were several attempts to read and understand the Bible, listen to various preachers, read books on Christianity, and even buy books by ex-JW's etc. There was/is so much religious literature out there to read, that it was/is unbelievable. When I would reach these points where I didn't think I could take anymore, I'd just put all the books and other literature away, and I'd drown myself in despair. Ordinary people simply do not understand the power of the WTS indoctrination. It's so strong, in fact, that it taints everything (including family relationships and those things of a religious nature) outside their protected sect. And for some it completely destroys their faith. A person's spirituality is such an intimately personal thing, that when someone else gets hold of it and messes it up, sometimes it's almost impossible to recover. That is particularly true when you've been taught to equate your belief in God with some visible institution or in our case, the Watchtower Organization (WTO). But with the doubts and questions, I knew there was no going back. I couldn't unlearn what I had found. There were times when my future seemed so dark and hopeless, that I just didn't want to exist anymore. I was so scared that I just wanted to curl up and die. But I was afraid to die too, because I knew I wasn't right with God either. 

There was a popular song at that time called 'Losing my Religion' by R.E.M. I identified with that song completely. I had lost my religion and I was devastated. Could my faith survive this? It would be difficult to explain how empty and lost I was. Intuitively I knew that my well-being was in jeopardy, both then and for the future. I actually believed, and still do, that life was not worth living without true spiritual fulfillment. I didn't know what it was that I needed, but I knew I didn't have it. And life went downhill.

I Was Miserable

In May of 1995 I entered the hospital for a hysterectomy. I didn't care what happened to me. By this time death would have been welcomed (or so I thought). I was miserable. However, a wonderful thing happened during the night after my surgery. Waking up after surgery, I was already back in my room; the room was dark, the curtains open and it was raining (just the perfect rain, not storming, but a rain with a soothing rhythm) and there was an incredible peace that had settled over me, something I couldn't deny. That peace changed my whole outlook. So, after I was released and was home recovering, I felt compelled to start reading the Bible again. But this time I made a vow to God and to myself that I would read only the Bible (not the JW bible), that I wanted only truth this time, no matter what that truth happened to be. And because I desired unadulterated truth, I told Him that of necessity, it had to be between just Him and me. 

Religion had caused such devastating misery in my life, that I didn't trust a single soul on this planet to teach me truth about Him. Religious obsession had a detrimental impact on my family, and my husband and children deserved more that what I was giving. So my resolve was to read scripture in the morning, pray, then go about my day. And at night I would read scripture, pray, then go to bed. What I actually started doing was reading a chapter of scripture in the morning, in sequence, out loud, slowly and I would pray for guidance and understanding, then the rest of the day I attended to the things I needed to do, then at night before bed, I'd read the next chapter, out loud, slowly and I would pray for further guidance and understanding. I did this on my knees beside my bed, both morning and night because I knew I'd fall asleep if I laid down. 

Slowly over that summer and fall, somehow what I was reading migrated from my intellect (head) to my innermost-being (heart), in a process of becoming my own. I now understood the text to be speaking directly to me, especially the counsel and wisdom of Jesus. If Jesus said to ask for the Holy Spirit, that's what I did, when Jesus said to come to him for comfort, that's what I did... etc, etc. Whatever I read, that's what I prayed about. Somewhere along the way, reading about the historical Jesus in the pages of the Bible brought this Person alive and relevant for our time today. This event really happened..this Jesus is not a figment of someone's overactive imagination. And my focus changed. Now I was seeking God's Face. Now I wanted to know Him for His own Name's sake, not for what I could get out of Him. Now I wanted to 'know' Him personally and intimately because everything that I was 'getting' out of this spiritual exercise pointed to His awesomeness. 

Along the way, all criticism turned inward. With this inward critical analysis came the desire to see myself as God sees me. So I asked God for permission to see, well, me. And through the gentleness and mercy of the Holy One, He showed me, me. No condemnation, no uncomfortable prodding, just a gentle persuasion to recognize with an inward visualization of the human condition in general and me in particular. I saw clearly my own sinfulness, the depths of which were devastating. The Holy Spirit (I now know this in hindsight) brought about a thorough internal self-examination, and I saw, among other things, that I am very judgmental, envious of others good fortune and possessions and looks, etc. I'm very deceitful and usually pretend to be somebody I'm not, deceitful in the way I deal with others (this part was very detailed), a liar (not that I tell outright lies, but I have a tendency to skirt around the truth, kind of avoid it, if I felt like it wasn't beneficial to me), an insecurity about myself and this conscious need to be accepted by others under their terms. I had an ugliness in my soul that even disgusted me. And on the heals of this revelation I saw why no person past, present or future is good enough. There's no religion we can join and no set of rules and regulations that we can follow (produces self-righteousness), there's not another person we can go to that would obligate God to us in any way. There's absolutely nothing we can do to save ourselves. He showed me that the very fabric of mankind is flawed or tainted and that both the stuff we're made of and each of us individually are sinful from beginning to end. There's not anything we can do under our own power to recognize sin, to 'not' sin or to cleanse us of sin.

 Why Salvation Through The Practice Of Religion Is All Smoke And Mirrors

The depth of repentance was astounding. It was a depth that cannot be achieved under our own power. And the walls came tumbling down. No more self-righteousness, no more pride, no more ego, no more denial, no more excuses, no more selfishness, no more glossing over the inherent evil within us all'and no more me, me, me. Yes, it was crushing, it was defeating, it was devastating, but it brought about a phenomenal humility that was liberating. I was broken, contrite and so very sorry, and I hit rock bottom. It was there, at rock bottom, where God met me. From there I understood perfectly 'why Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life'. Why salvation through the practice of religion is all smoke and mirrors, and that 2000 years ago, this Jesus really came to live and walk among us as the promised messiah, that He really was crucified unto death on our behalf and that God truly did resurrect Him! This Jesus that I'd been reading about is not just a historical figure. He was and is a LIVING Savior, still involved with people on this planet! At rock bottom, with humility and gratitude, I asked for Him to be my Savior. And He did. Praise God! As a JW it was forbidden to even speak to or address Jesus in any way. The WTS is so wrong, truly the blind leading the blind.

Before this happened to me, if someone had told me what I'm about to tell you, I'd have probably thought they were either lying, demon possessed, delusional or psychotic in need of medication. I actually didn't have a frame of reference for what was taking place. But I've always taken faith in God very seriously. One's spirituality is something I would never distort in any fashion. As a JW we were never taught that a real up-close and personal relationship with God through Christ was even possible. Oh how wrong they are. The WTS has such a way of drawing attention away from Christ and focusing all praise and honor to their leadership. In fact, they teach that there is no salvation apart from being a Jehovah's Witness under the direction of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. This is how they insert themselves into the place of Christ in the lives of JW's. The thing is--Christ is what we should be preaching, because Christ is the focal point of Christianity.

I'm Not Given To A Great Deal Of Emotionalism

Right here before I continue, I would like to say that I'm not given to a great deal emotionalism and it has never been my idea of Godly devotion. But anyway, here's what happened...

On Thursday morning, November 30, 1995, I got up as usual, read a chapter of scripture, said my prayer, and was feeling very peaceful and ready to start the day. When I finished praying, I got up and turned to walk into my bathroom. All of a sudden I became aware of an invisible PRESENCE flooding over me, engulfing me, flowing around me, through me, flowing down, then back up, then down, like I was being washed from the inside out. At first I was stunned and it just kept getting stronger and stronger. The Presence was so dense that I could almost see it, but not with physical eyes. It just bathed me from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet repeatedly. I felt cleansed in a way that is beyond this world. And I immediately realized this Presence is everywhere, not just in my room, but everywhere on the whole face of the Earth, at all times, and then I knew in the depths of my being that this was God's Holy Spirit, and along with this Presence was an incredible LOVE inseparable from the Presence Himself. It was not earthly love and it was not human love. It was the purest, HOLIEST, most unconditional acceptance wrapped in measureless, boundless, magnetic, irresistible, unconditional LOVE. I can't even describe it in a way that gives it justice. This Presence was love personified. This love is not a thing but a facet of the essential nature of God Himself. His love is something - He is 'God is love' now I knew without a doubt. The gift of God's Spirit is a gift beyond measure. And I realized that God is as close as our skin, right in front of our face, just waiting for us to accept His Son. Only in accepting in the core of our being and lifting the Name of Jesus the Christ are we bringing glory to the Father. We have to turn to the Living Christ, most intimately and most personally. There is no mediator other than Jesus. No-thing, no-where, no-body else, ever. 

The Spirit of God does not produce a spirit of fear. Perfect love (like God's) casts out all fear. I was not scared or frightened or nervous in the slightest. It wasn't like something taking over my body. It was like I was very familiar with this Person, although nothing had ever happened to me like this before. I was totally comfortable and at complete ease in His Presence. And he knew me intimately, through and through. He was very gentle. I was made to feel and know that I am totally accepted. No great feats to conquer, no mountains to climb and no hoops to jump through. He knew my hopes, dreams, failures, fears, all the way to the very core of my being, my every thought. And I was made to know this. This sounds kind of funny, but at one point, the Spirit conveyed to me great joy and rejoicing in heaven over this salvation and that there's this same joy and rejoicing over each saved sinner. It was like I could hear it, but not with my ears, but with my spirit. And this is where it starts getting harder to explain. 

I went back over to the bed and knelt down and opened my Bible to a certain passage, (I don't know if I went there of my own accord, or if I was prompted to do so, but anyway) and when I looked down at the words, they were breathing, they were moving before my very eyes. It was like the words themselves were alive and immediately the thought came to mind that God's Word is indeed alive, but it only 'speaks' to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. He brings it alive to those being saved. This book, the Holy Bible, is a record He has given us of His dealings with mankind historically, presently, futuristically and prophetically. But we can read the Bible from cover to cover repeatedly and still not be able to comprehend it's message, nor accept the Christ, because we don't come to Christ of our own accord. The salvation process is the work of God from beginning to end. We can take NO credit for any part of it.

I Had Never Experienced The Depth Of God's Love For Me Personally 

By this time, I was realizing that the Holy Spirit was communicating with me through a sort of internal mental-telepathy. Trying to explain it in human terms does a great injustice to His Spirit. I remember looking up to the ceiling and saying out loud in total awe and amazement, 'You really do love me.' I had never realized the depth of God's love for me personally and for each and every one of us individually. As a JW, I'd always had this view of a tyrannical, angry, vengeful Jehovah just waiting to zap me into nonexistence at any moment. I also saw, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, (in my spirit, not with my eyes) the presence of two others, not faces or bodily entities, but Presences like balls of whirling fire (for lack of a better analogy), who I instinctively knew by means of the Holy Spirit to be the Father and the Son. Now I no longer have a problem with the Trinity doctrine as explained by ancient scholars. I do however have a problem with some of the ways that modern teachers put a spin on it. The WTS has a very warped view of God and the Trinity. But this side of eternity there's things we won't be able to grasp completely' it's like the Apostle Paul said, "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Cor.13: 12 NIV)

During all of this revelation, I became complete, meaning my 'God-spot' (that emptiness within us, that spot that only God can fill) was filled with the very Presence of God and I felt a 'spark of life, a seed if you will' enter my inner most being, my spirit. Then briefly my spirit was lifted to Heaven and seated at a very long table, and on the way back, I observed our Earth from a celestial position and love flooded through me for both this planet and for the people on it. Brought to myself again I absolutely did not want to be back in my body, but I was. I stood in my room in total amazement since when every single thought and question that came from my heart and entered my head was immediately answered from this innermost voice that wasn't my voice, but was a voice of such wisdom, authority, truthfulness, holiness and gentleness...the list is endless. Answers were conveyed in such a way that they were crystal clear, answers that are veiled by the chaotic lives we live in this world. Questions were answered that I can't even remember now. Knowledge and scriptures were running through my mind and heart a mile a minute. And I knew, instinctively, by the presence of the Spirit what everything meant, scriptures and all. 

Here are a few things that were made very clear:

1) My WT trained ideas and views about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, religion, salvation and our future were all very warped.

2) Jesus is way more important to us than the WTS would have us believe.

3) The Jehovah's Witnesses are collectively and figuratively standing/worshiping before a cold, dark, dead, barren, vacant mountain (God is not there). This was from Jesus Christ Himself: He woke me at precisely 3:00 AM the following morning and was standing on the right side of my bed. Not visible to the eye, but the concentration of all that's HOLY was in spiritual bodily form in the corner of my room and His LOVE was torrential in it's outpouring. He showed me the spiritual condition of the JW's' in a vision. While the vision manifested, simultaneously I sensed He was weeping for these people's darkness and He allowed me to feel His overwhelming compassion for them in their spiritual void.

4) God is in control of what we perceive as chaos here on this earth. I was very glad to know this.

5) God's people are sprinkled across the world. This was a visualization in my spirit of a world in darkness with little lights sprinkled across the globe.

6) God is still calling His people to have an intimate relationship with Him.

7) Our spirituality really is about having a relationship with God through Christ Jesus. He is the only way.

8) God chooses individuals, not churches, not organizations, not groups.

9) God's desire and our purpose and commission is to lift up the name and person of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

10) Jesus is the light, the life and the hope of this world. The scriptures tell us to keep our eyes on Jesus. Don't look to the right or the left, but to keep focused straight ahead on Him. Not on a preacher, a priest, a rabbi, a religion, a denomination, and not to an organization. None of these things are going to save us.

11) Our faith is based on relationship, not religion. Religion will never save anyone. Religion can't harness the Holy Spirit and He doesn't dwell there. He dwells within those that belong to Christ.

12) We have to be able to look beyond 'religion' to the true God, beyond those delivering the message to the author of the message. Jesus said his sheep would hear his voice. And it's amazing how the Holy Spirit allows you to 'filter' incoming messages. We have to be able to look beyond those that would chain us with their salvation message, claiming, you have to have 'us' for salvation.

13) Salvation was something accomplished almost 2000 years ago. All we do is receive it.

14) A Christian's standing is based solely on their personal relationship with Christ. It doesn't depend on man-made structures, but on faith in who He is and what that means. That means that our testimony should always point to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. The focus is to point beyond ourselves to Him, because it's all about Him, not us. Focusing on other Christians, whether teachers or whatever, will only lead to disappointment.

15) Even without understanding what's going on in this crazy world, our hope, faith, and love rest on and in Christ Jesus.

16) The body of Christ is a mystical organism. God knows those that belong to Him.

17) We don't have to have all the answers. (JW's pride themselves on their knowledge and their claim to 'having all the answers'; 'they believe they are 'in the truth'). God is not accountable to us. All things will work for God's glory.

18) We have complete freedom. As the scriptures say at 2 Cor.3:17 (NIV), 'Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.' And, Galatians 5:1 (NIV), 'It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.' This doesn't mean that we have a license to do what we want. Freedom involves voluntarily placing ourselves under the law of Christ, not to be saved, but because we are saved. We earnestly desire to follow and obey our Lord. Obedience reflects our love for Him.

19) Everything will come together in God's time. And we'll be wondering why didn't we see genius of His plan. It's the infinite wisdom of an infinitely wise, just and loving God.

20) No one has the absolute truth. Not even close to it. The tapestry of salvation is much, much bigger than we know or are able to comprehend.

21) The salvation message is so simple that children can understand it and Christ would have died to save even one person.

22) The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is much, much bigger and more majestic than what we humans can or will ever know this side of eternity. But we can know the Father by knowing the Son.

23) God truly is happy. I 'felt' how happy He is. This was so wonderful! He is so totally complete within Himself. His awesomeness is never ending.

24) We have to 'let go and let God'. WE are not in control.

Finally! Worshiping God In Spirit And In Truth

When the Spirit of God is in control around you, you have this insatiable desire and ability to 'really' worship unselfishly. And yes, I mean falling down on your knees and worshiping! He truly is worthy of our worship. It was the answer to my prayers, to be able to worship God in spirit and truth, out of total devotion, love, joy, peace, and thankfulness.

After a while, I walked into the kitchen where my husband was sitting and I said to him in amazement, 'Johnny, I think I've been saved or something.' I really didn't know what was going on. All I knew was that it was wonderful and I didn't ever want it to stop. In an effort to explain what was happening, I started crying out of pure unadulterated joy. Before my hysterectomy, Johnny had been having to put up with my mental condition, (the crying, the depression, the joylessness, the hopelessness....etc), and quite frankly, he was sick of it. But I said to him when he looked at me like he was being tortured, 'No, it's not like that, I'm happy, these are tears of joy.' Joy that was from within, from that place in my innermost being that had been void and empty for so long. This joy didn't have anything whatsoever to do with outside circumstances and it was the kind of joy that is the only real joy. Johnny said, yeah that's great, come on, we have things to do. We had errands to run in town. So I got ready, but all the while, this was still going on big time. And when we left, this Presence went with me, wherever we went. We didn't talk much. I just rode around in the truck, basking in the glory of His Presence. Things were being made clearer and clearer. Scriptures (in particular, the book of John) were still being poured through my mind and heart a mile a minute, with the complete understanding as to what they meant. And it was all I could think about and all I wanted to talk about. 

A funny thing happened the next morning. I was cleaning and I always had the TV soaps on that I had been watching for years. And very clearly the Holy Spirit let me know and feel that these TV shows only glorify sin in their filth and glorification of adultery, unfaithfulness, fornication, immodesty, and every other thing vile. And just like that I stopped watching them and haven't had that desire since then. Praise God! He'll remove the vile filth from our lives if we let Him. 

This Presence stayed with me, strong, for 3 days. And over the next couple of weeks, I could feel it just fading away. I remember when I realized it was fading away, I tried absorbing as much of His love, grasping as much knowledge and remembering everything that I possibly could. It was like God had reached down and very lightly touched me with the very tip of His Finger, just for a moment in time and the Glory of that moment took a while to fade away. That's the only way I know to describe it. The scripture found at Hebrews 6:4 took on new meaning because what happened to me was indeed just a 'taste.' Now I crave it all the more. God is good! 

As an example of scriptural clarification, the next day I had class at our local college and on my way I passed a store that displayed lottery advertisements. And immediately, I knew 'why' it would not be something for a Christian to do. It's not the simple act of going into a store and buying a lotto ticket. It's the underlying reason a person would buy the ticket. And immediately I knew that it is the sins of greed and idolatry that's the underlying reason we are willing to spend our money for something with the odds of the lotto. And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that greed and idolatry is something deep seated in our hearts and lives that invades not only things like the lottery, but almost every area of our lives. You know.... it's one thing for somebody to tell you that greed/idolatry are sins, it's quite another to feel it with every fiber of your being. In playing the lotto we are spending money (and essentially, throwing it away) with the unlikely hope that it will ultimately benefit us. That is selfishness, that is greed, that is idolatry. 

But with this understanding, the Holy Spirit made perfectly clear to me that Christians will be and are judged not so much according to our actions, but according to the motives for our actions. It makes a big difference. The difference being that whatever we do, is the motive treasure being laid up in heaven or are we doing it out of some selfish ambition to benefit ourselves or to impress someone else (look how wonderful I am)? We have to look within and try to understand the motives for the things we do. And this is not always clear. Recognizing our own motives is not always apparent. This is another reason it can't be in a particular denomination that has all truth. God deals with people, not religion or religious affiliation. It all has to do with the heart. Mankind can't harness the power of the Holy Spirit into denominational elitism. He goes where He wills. In John 3, Jesus gives us a very apt explanation of the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Anyway...Johnny had thought I was losing it, but over the days and weeks to come, he realized that things were different with me. I now had joy, peace, happiness...etc. He would sit for hours listening to my experience. And unbeknownst to me, he started praying. After all these years, he realized he needed and wanted a relationship with God too. I didn't even realize what was happening, but the Holy Spirit was moving. 

Meanwhile God was dealing with me too. The Holy Spirit placed upon my heart a burden to confess something to Johnny. And for a couple of weeks, I just ignored it. I do not like to be in trouble. Plus the fact that Johnny has a very bad temper. So I had every reason in the world to believe he would probably throw a fit and punish me forever. Not a good position to be in, for sure. And it wasn't some sin I had gone out and committed. But was a sin of the heart and mind that I had committed against God and against Johnny. I won't go into details here. 

But the Holy Spirit is very persistent. He did not lift this burden. It wasn't just a guilty conscience. I've had that a lot of times. And I knew God had already forgiven me. No, this was something that consisted of a heaviness put upon my heart from an outside force about exactly what needed to be confessed. And I knew it, but I was resisting. I refused to think about it but things kept happening to make me remember. It was like the Holy Spirit kept saying, 'Linda, you need to do this.' I felt absolutely no condemnation, just a certain persisting encouragement and heaviness on my heart to tell Johnny this particular thing. Quite frankly, my mind ran along the lines of, 'You're just trying my faith and it's going to get me in trouble.' But the Spirit of God is very gentlemanly. He does not force us. But he doesn't give up either, when He really wants us to do something. We just have to let go and trust God. This is something I have to deal with daily. The WT had taught me to be very untrusting. That was compounded by the fact that I'm a very controlling kind of person who likes to be in control of situations and I despise being wrong (just some more of how I am). We have to learn (this is very hard for me for some reason) that it's ok to be wrong. Everybody's wrong sometime. Anyway....

On the morning of Dec. 29, 1995, I had gotten up as usual, and started reading my Bible passage, and lo and behold if it wasn't on the exact thing that the Holy Spirit had put upon my heart. Ugh! His persistence paid off. I got up and looked up and said, 'Ok, you win,' and I went into the livingroom to where Johnny was and I sat down and told him. Well, he was not a happy camper, but to my amazement, he didn't go ballistic either. And we talked about it and discussed it at length. 

Meanwhile, we had shifted into the kitchen. Johnny was sitting at the table and had been reading the Bible and 'thinking'. I think I was cleaning or cooking, (one of the two, for sure, smile), when he said something like, 'Linda, you know, we all sin. Whether we commit sin with our actions or not, we all commit sin with our hearts and minds. It's inevitable. There's absolutely nothing we can do to NOT do it.' 

While he had been saying this, he had been sort of looking down and around, when suddenly the look on his face changed and I knew something was happening, because besides the look on his face, I could FEEL that the room was powerfully charged. And the same thing that had happened to me, happened to him. While he was realizing what was happening, he had gotten up out of his chair (he was stunned) and I had walked towards him and the look in his eyes was priceless. The Spirit was flooding over and through him and bringing things to his mind to reassure and comfort him. And I hugged him and leaned back and was looking at him, when he just broke down and started crying out of pure JOY. First of all, my husband is NOT one to cry, and who would have ever thought that something that I had every reason in the world to believe would cause disharmony and trouble in my marriage, the Lord had taken and used to bring my husband to repentance and salvation. It can not be stated enough how wonderful our God is!! He has a wonderful way of humbling us and moving in our lives to bring us pure joy. And now He revealed Himself to my husband, this has to be one of the most amazing gifts, to actually see someone else be saved! Of course, the direction of Johnny's life changed and made him a new man. Where the things of God have never been a priority with him, he now lives to learn more, hear more, be more. And he's slowly changing, as am I, but not from human efforts. The Spirit moves in our lives and if we let him, He'll change us from inside out. 

With Johnny's experience, he was shown different things than me, although the overriding characteristic of both experiences was the incredible love that God has for mankind. The Spirit knows each of us intimately and knows exactly what each of us needs. And hence, He gives according to his good pleasure. He's waiting for each of us. 

I have to put something in right here. As I mentioned previously about the seed of life, Johnny also had the sense of life being infused into his spirit. When this happens, it's like for a moment or two, you can distinguish between your spirit and your body. And LIFE is given to your spirit. It is SO hard to explain. But when this happens, you feel trapped inside an unclean body. Maybe 'fallen' would be a more appropriate word. I do know this though, you just want to leave your body behind and go to be with God. His love has a drawing power that is irresistible. You don't care if you die on the spot. I understand how the apostles and early Christians were not afraid to be martyrs for Christ. Since they were filled with the Spirit, I understand their actions and convictions completely. Not to mention the fact that many of them had walked with and seen the risen Christ. 

I'm still learning to let Him be in control. I have to pray about this daily. It's not like you're automatically not sinful anymore. But it's a journey, whereby we are continually learning along the way. The key is 'submission'. Learning to recognize and submit to His Spirit and listen to the voice of the Lord with our inner ear. 

I used to never know what it meant to let Christ have control of our lives. I spent so many years letting the WTS be in control, with all their rules and regulations (which only produces self-righteousness). That is not what God requires. But it is a narrow road, just like Jesus told us. Only it's not a denominational road. The Truth isn't found in a particular denomination. In fact, there are denominations that make the claim of being Christian where Christ isn't and never has been present. It's discovering that plane in whereby we realize that Jesus Christ really is the answer. He is our Rock. But we'll never find it unless the Father brings us to the Son and the Son showers and blesses us with the Holy Spirit. The scriptures teach us this consistently. But we still each go our own way because it 'seems' to us to be the right way. I guess we have to be willing to sacrifice all to find it.

Johnny and I are on a journey now. My only desire is to do Christ's will and to one day be with Him and see Him face to face. The paradise of the WT has nothing to offer me. I simply do not desire the things of this earth. The WT fosters a spirit of fleshly desires in their continual offering of paradise on earth with all the fleshly cravings of mortal man. But that is not the hope Jesus held out for His followers. I'm longing for a better country-- a heavenly one, am looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. To the city God has prepared for us. The 11th chapter of Hebrews makes perfect sense now.

No Man Is An Island 

There is one thing (among many actually) that I have to keep a handle on. And that's allowing the Spirit to cultivate in me a continual state of humility. It would be very easy to think that others don't have anything to offer or anything we need. This is simply not true. Everybody led by the Spirit of God have 'nuggets of Godly wisdom' to offer, but no one person possesses the whole of it. That's why Christians need each other so much. No man is an island. I crave to fellowship with other believers. We were meant to assembly and hear the Word of God, have fellowship and to encourage and edify each other. But first, the Lord is helping me to deal with the sectarian bias I've been subject to for so many years, and to reverse the mind-control techniques the WTS uses to keep everyone in control. 

My exit from the JW's was my first step or act of faith. As I stepped out, my options were to fall flat on my face or walk into the loving hands of my Living Savior, Jesus. God's Word tells us that those who step out and live according to faith will be credited with righteousness. 

Psalm 66:16-20 expresses how I feel. "Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!" All I can add to this is Amen, for this is surely the truth. God's Truth stands upon it's own merit. God's Truth is still going to be truth, still holy and still pure no matter the length of time or the depths of investigative knowledge. It's deeper than what imperfect man says God's Truth is. 

While I'm sitting here trying to formulate the right words to express the truths I've been shown, I just keep thinking about the Purity and Holiness of God. In Him, there is no darkness. No deceit. No misleading. No lying or trying to skirt around the truth. No speculation that ruins people's lives (as evidenced by the WTS's doctrinal flip-flops). Anytime we consciously try to mislead someone, even in the smallest way, this is being deceitful. The WTS is guilty of this countless times. They've had to do this to prop up their own pseudo-christian sect in their efforts to keep the shackles on their followers. All a person has to do is read the WT literature. The WTS is it's own worst enemy. But instead of demanding accountability, the faithful just accept whatever concoction the WTS comes up with. It truly is pathetic. The problem I have with the WTO and it's followers, the Jehovah's Witnesses, is knowing they're misleading millions and they remain obstinate in their hearts, thereby refusing to even entertain the possibility that they're wrong. Like I said before, the WT indoctrination is strong. And there's nothing I can do about it. But ' 

I know Him who can. If any individual JW is searching for truth, it is within their grasp, because Jesus is reaching out to them right now. HE is the truth! If they will individually ask Him to reveal Himself out of a pure heart (that's the key), He will. If they're willing to recognize their own sinfulness and ask for forgiveness, it will be given. If they'll ask for Him to be their Lord and Savior, He will. He is faithful, he is compassionate and He is willing. He truly does commune with His people. 

How Much Does An Authentic Relationship With God Through Christ Mean To You?

The tragedy is that JW's so firmly believe in WT teachings, that they refuse to listen to Jesus ('You pore over the scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.' John 5: 39-40 HCSB). I implore any Jehovah's Witness who dares to read this testimony, please don't be complacent in your man-made pseudo-religious sect. God IS listening for those that are earnest in their search for Him. Jesus told us to 'ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you'. But He also said that we have to be willing to give up all to follow Him and be His disciple. Are you willing? How much does an authentic relationship with God through Christ mean to you? 

It is my prayer that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the power of His Holy Spirit, would illuminate you and bring you into a living relationship with His precious Son, our Lord Jesus. I also pray that the motives of your heart are pure and if not that He may create in you a pure heart as to know Him and the one whom He sent forth, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Are we holier-than-thou? No way, no how! Are we perfect? Absolutely not! We still deal with the human condition daily, we're still learning, we still struggle, we still stumble, we still fall and we still sin. We're still just humans living day to day. The difference now is that we don't want to habitually 'live' in sin anymore. The difference now is that we have a Living Savior who's understanding and faithful, who chastises us when needed, who showers us with forgiveness when we repent and who loves us unconditionally. What a Savior! We understand that life is a journey. And our journey is especially blessed because He's in it, indeed, He's more than just 'in our life,'' Hallelujah, Praise God Almighty, He literally is our life!

Sincerely and with Christian Love, Linda Padgett: lnunya@hotmail.com

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. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW!  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 you 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, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.


JESUS DID IT! and...


Remember:  All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-21 is our assurance)