The Christian life is not always an easy road. Sometimes we get off track. The Bible says to encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ daily so that no one turns away from the living God. If you have found yourself backsliding, or drifting away from the Lord, these practical steps will help get you back on course today.
1. Examine your faith-life regularly.Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
2. If you find yourself drifting away, turn back immediately.See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Hebrews 3:12-13 (NIV)
3. Come to God daily for forgiveness and cleansing.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 (NIV)Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.
Revelation 22:14 (NIV)
4. Continue daily seeking the Lord with your whole heart.And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.
I Chronicles 28:9 (NIV)
5. Stay in the Word of God; keep studying and learning daily.Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.
Proverbs 4:13 (NIV)
6. Stay in fellowship often with other believers. You can’t make it alone as a Christian. We need the strength and prayers of other believers.And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.
Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)
7. Stand firm in your faith. Expect difficult times in your Christian life.All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Matthew 10:22 (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.
Galatians 5:1 (NIV)
8. Persevere.Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
1 Timothy 4:15-17 (NIV)
9. Run the race to win. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training … we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9: 24-25 (NIV)I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness…
2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV)
10. Remind yourself of what God has done for you in the past. Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised … we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
Hebrews 10: 32, 35-39 (NIV)
Article by Mary Fairchild
Photo Credit by: Shutterstock
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Can you imagine hating life so bad that you cut and burn your body to try to feel better? I have over 250 cut marks on my body that I’m not proud of … but they are past reminders of what my miserable life was like before God rescued me from my self-destruction. If you can identify and are looking for some hope … please keep reading.
I was born in 1968 in Pennsylvania. I was raped by a male acquaintance of my mother’s at age five. I was physically and sexually abused by my older brother from ages 7 to 17, and raped twice by an uncle at age 19.
Like most – as a result of the sexual abuse and violence that occurred, it led me into a path of destructive behavior, and a life of utter confusion and feelings of great inadequacy.
There’s no doubt in my mind that due to the abuse and sexual violence I was visited with through those first 20 years of living, the many problems and psychiatric issues that visited me stemmed from all that abuse.
From an early age … I struggled with feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anger and hatred toward men. (Being sexually abused at a young age typically does that to a person). As a child I was in therapy, a bed-wetter, was attracted to girls, had strong desires to be a boy, and often dressed as a boy. As I entered my teens, I endured a sexual identity crisis, dealt with self-destructive behavior, developed anorexia and bulimia, was an alcoholic, dabbled in drugs, was in and out of therapy and entered the Marines.
By early adulthood I was causing self-inflicted injuries on my body as a way of coping, in and out of Eating Disorder Units and psychiatric hospitals, dealt with suicidal tendencies, battled with numerous suicide attempts, was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance, clinical depression and Borderline Personality Disorder (BDP).
By age 25 I had self-injured my body by cutting and burning (one 5″ scar and one 4″ scar from 3rd degree burns and over 250 scars from cutting). I had been involved in various relationships, led a homosexual lifestyle, was in a gang, had an abortion, filed bankruptcy due to high medical bills, was on psychotherapeutic medication (17 pills daily), had battled with mental illness and was in and out of psychiatric hospitals.
As I approached 27, I was dependent on psychotherapeutic medications, totally exasperated and felt as though I was just existing and taking up space. I was at a point in my life that although I doubted anything could be better, I was drastically looking for my life to somehow change.
Although I thought I had tried everything possible to get better, somehow I was still open for help. It seemed that whatever I tried, it was only good for a few hours … maybe a day. Sometimes – if I got “lucky” – it lasted a couple days.
I was not brought up around church or anything godly. One Sunday in March of 1995 I was invited to church and reluctantly went. It was my first time going to a church in over 15 years, and this was no church like I had ever been to. From the moment I stepped through the doors, I sensed something different.
When I walked into that church in Florham Park, NJ, I remember sensing such love and peace. (I honestly thought it would be over once I left because that’s the way everything else went). I wasn’t quite sure what my spiritual beliefs were, mainly agnostic, as I spent most of my life blaming God, or questioning Him, why all this had happened to me. Can you identify? I was at a point in my life where I was not ready to be let down again. I was so tired of being let down again and again.
All I knew was that when I walked into that church, I felt great and didn’t remember feeling so much peace like that ever before. And I knew it was real. No medication made me feel this alert and alive. I knew it was real.
I wanted so much to be normal but had no clue how to do it, as everything else I had tried proved a failure. After going to that church, I asked God to make Himself real to me.
Within days I noticed that I was more peaceful, able to think clearly and the negative desires I had were not so strong. Even though to an outsider that would seem so small of a change … for me, it was a big thing just to see any change. It was then that I knew God was real. Nothing had ever lasted this long!
A few weeks later, I bought a Bible and it opened right up to the book of Mark. I began reading in Mark, Chapter 5, verses 1 through 19. As I read, I saw that a guy who had cut himself day and night and appeared to have mental illness; he was healed by Jesus. I then became very agitated with God and threw the Bible to the floor. I just didn’t understand why I wasn’t well; if He had healed this guy so long ago, why did I have to be in so much pain?!
I began to yell and swear at God: “If You are real, then why the $%#@ can’t you help me? Why can’t you do for me what you did years ago for that guy? I’m so tired of this !@#*, and tired of living this way. Don’t You understand that I’m tired of crying all night long … cutting and drinking because I cannot cope? Life isn’t supposed to be this way. I don’t want mental illness. Please help me.”
I do realize now that swearing to God may not have been the best thing, but at that time I wasn’t accustomed to talking with Him and tried my best to be nice. After saying this, I pleaded with God; I truly petitioned Him for His help.
I figured my last resort was this God who I wasn’t even so sure about. I put all my doubts aside and immediately I began to pray to God. Actually – I challenged Him that I wanted answers and that I would give Him three weeks to “prove Himself” to me. Even though I wasn’t sure if I believed in God, I thought it would be a good idea if I at least put my efforts into it. I wanted my life to change and was looking for a difference.
I figured that I had done everything else possible, so why not at least give God a chance? It seemed as if nothing else had worked, but I had never thought of including God . . . because I mainly blamed God. Part of me thought that what happened to me was His fault. Additionally, part of me wasn’t convinced that He even existed. I wasn’t sure what I believed in — I wasn’t even certain about God.
God honored those three weeks, I’m so thankful to say.
Ever since I “challenged” God, my life turned around completely and has never been the same! I “officially” accepted Jesus into my heart and life in April, 1995, during a revival meeting with Janny Grein. What happened over the next 1 1/2 years was absolutely breathtaking!
With the love and mercy of God, I learned to cope with the past and look forward to the future; there is hope and there is a better way of life. I learned that I don’t have to live my future based on my past. I am not sure why God allowed all that happened to me, but I do know that what was meant for bad is now being turned around for good. God has now given me opportunities to help others who have been abused and because of my past abuse, I can identify with them, and I can have compassion for them that I probably may never have had otherwise.
I have forgiven all the people that have hurt and abused me. It took me a long time to discover that forgiving those who abuse you is the only thing that will set a person completely free from the pain and devastation the abuse causes. It takes the help of God to forgive, I realize, but He is right there waiting to help a person forgive, when they are ready — ready to be set completely free and be made whole.
Let me say something before going further. Forgiving those who has made your life a living hell makes no sense whatsoever, I realize. Humanly speaking, they don’t deserve forgiveness, right?! They deserve to rot and burn in in hell, right?! Yet think of this — if that person who abused you was burning in hell right now, would that heal you of all the things going on in your life? Would it somehow suddenly deliver you from the emotional hell you have known so long? What is your real heart’s desire? To be free from your hell, and be made whole, or vengeance against the one who has abused you? Why not do yourself a huge favor and do what God will help you do if you want to be healed and made whole the way God would like you to be? Please don’t waste another day suffering because of what someone else has done to you that has so messed up your life. Take some action that will shut off the poisonous tie your soul has with that person. Do you want to know what God’s remedy is that will cut that poisonous soul tie off from the one who abused you, so you can put yourself on the road to total freedom from your emotional hell, and be a whole person? It’s the “medicine” God prescribes called: forgiveness.
Oh — c’mon now, Vicki. Now you’re playing those stupid religious games! I’m not going to forgive that person for doing what that person did to me! They don’t deserve my forgiveness! Besides … I couldn’t forgive them even if I wanted to!
Fair enough. Please consider this, though, before rejecting my offer completely. Let’s say the role was reversed. Let’s say you were the one who did the violent raping. Let’s say you are the one who has hurt other people and made their life a living hell. And … let’s say you didn’t want to risk going to hell on the Judgment Day. Let’s say you would like God’s forgiveness for all the terrible things you did against other people, so you could be positive you would go to heaven and stay there for eternity, and not go to hell. Wouldn’t you like a heavenly Judge who actually would and will forgive you?
Take it a step further. Let’s say you’re a serial killer. Let’s say you’ve raped a few dozen or more little girls and boys and then murdered them. Let’s say you are about to die by lethal injection for it, and you now would like to be certain that somehow you could get God’s forgiveness for all the wrong you have done? You know full well you don’t deserve to be forgiven — certainly not by the living relatives of those you killed, nor can you possibly forgive yourself, so why in the world would God want to forgive you, right? You don’t deserve forgiveness, and you know it … though you surely would like to be forgiven.
Suddenly … God shows up in front of you and says … “I’m the Creator, and do you know that I died on the cross and paid the penalty for all the wrong and evil you caused against those little innocent girls and boys? Do you know that I shed my innocent blood – I gave my life … when I didn’t have to … so that you can be forgiven, and be made a new spiritual creation? Do you know that there is no evil — no wrong — no amount of wrongs … that I won’t forgive, if you’ll just accept My love. My sacrifice on the cross is the evidence of My love for wrongdoers – for sinners. It isn’t because you deserve it, I want you to realize. You deserve punishment in hell for eternity. But … my loving sacrifice frees you from hell and everlasting torment … if you will just grab hold of it and accept it as the free gift to you that it is. It’s a free gift to anyone who wants it, no matter how much wrong they have done to others.”
You see … that is what the heart of Christianity is: Love and Forgiveness. God loves us so much that He forgives us of everything wrong we’ve ever done, because of the sacrifice Jesus Christ gave on the cross. You’ve probably heard that, though maybe you sort of flipped it off as a bunch of religious garbage, or lies. It’s not, precious one. It’s the secret I found to be set free from the hell I was living in. I came to the conclusion … that if God is willing to forgive me of every one of my wrongdoings … He will give me the power and strength and courage to forgive those who have wronged me. When I forgive them, God releases healing power in me. The one who has abused me isn’t free from answering to God about their wrongdoing … but I get set free from my hatred and bitterness (emotional cancer if you will) and the torturous memories from the abuse of the one I forgive. This can only happen though with God’s help. We don’t have the ability to do that by ourselves. But I can assure you God will be right there with you to give you the courage and strength to do it.
Let me say this as well. Forgiving someone who abused you doesn’t mean God is expecting you to like that person either! Liking a person and forgiving a person is entirely two different things! When I hold bitterness and anger toward someone who has hurt me … it is like drinking a glass of emotional and spiritual poison every day of my life. I am committing slow suicide without even knowing it! Bitterness and anger is poison to our soul, and the only sure remedy that God says works is telling God you forgive that person for what they did to you. Remember … God is not going to forgive that person for what they did to you, if they don’t ask His forgiveness, and they will answer on the Judgment Day to God for what they did to you. However … that is between them and God. When you forgive … God makes certain you get rewarded for it, and for starters, your reward is healing!
Well, with God’s help from the Holy Spirit, I forgave my tormentors, and I am a living testimony that forgiveness works! I am completely healed, recovered and overcome in every area! I am now married to a wonderful Christian man. We married in April, 1999. My life has taken a 360 degree turn and I am amazed at what God can do! He can do the same for you, and even more … if you’re ready to be set completely free. All you have to do is mean business with Jesus Christ.
It is my hope that every person reading this will come to the realization that they can overcome anything in their life, as nothing is hopeless! Hey folks … we’re talking about being connected with the Creator of the universe here … the Creator of all things. Nothing is impossible for Him!
Whatever you have gone through, or may be facing right now, you can get through it just like I did — get completely healed and set free from it — and lead a normal healthy life as God intended for you to live. You do not have to let the past hold you in its painful grip. You do not have to be a victim of circumstances of the past. You can be victorious over life … instead of being a victim of life. God wants you to be victorious! I’m not lying to you one bit.
Why did God allow all your hurt to happen to you in the first place, you still want to know? You may not believe there is a devil right now, but let me tell you, there’s a devil alright, and he is using evil people to abuse children and older people every hour of every day somewhere on this planet. There is a battle between good and evil going on in this planet … and if you want to spend the rest of your life hating God for what has happened to you, God gives you that right, but it grieves Him when you do. Please … don’t waste any more time hating the very One who can help you, and set you free from the pain you are in. He truly wants to, but you have to do things His way, not yours. He’s God. He knows what He is doing.
I had such a lopsided view and understanding of God. Everyone does to one degree or another, until they become saved — become spiritually born again — and get properly connected to God and be around spiritually mature people who can help you and pray with you and encourage you. Once that happens, the Holy Spirit helps you to begin to understand the way things really are. The scales come off our eyes, and we begin to see and understand God in a totally different light. It is incredibly amazing!
God will touch you. He will change you. He is just a prayer away. Are you ready to surrender to His love and forgiveness and help that knows no limitations? He longs to set you free from your hell. His heart grieves over your pain. Truly it does.
I know God will heal anyone … anytime … of anything. They just have to either be desperate enough, or courageous enough – or both.
Thank you for letting me share my heart with you. If you would like to talk, feel free to email me. You can also click on my website if you would like.
Blessings to you … Vicki
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In 1999 I wanted to join the Zambian army. I was dropped on the day of departure without any reason, and this caused me to be suspect of the possibility that I might be HIV/AIDS positive. (An HIV /AIDS test is compulsory when you want to join the Zambian army) Everything changed immediately when results came from the hospital. I tested positive of the deadly virus.
In 2000 I went to college where I was studying Agriculture Mechanics. I got very sick. My friends kept telling me to go for a HIV/ AIDS test, because of the many problems I was having, such as my deformed finger nails; painful bones; constant cough; diarrhea, along with other body problems. Staying at the college created many challenges. The college was far away from my closest relatives. And I was bothered with a question: Who is going to bury me If I die?
I decided to go to church, though I was a backslider. I backslid because I was bitter towards God. I felt that God failed to heal my two sisters and my brother who died within the period of three years. They all died from HIV/ AIDS related problems. I had no problem with my immediate elder sister’s sickness, but the third sister from me — I remember blaming her for the sickness as her fault because she was a prostitute. I wish I had not blamed her for that.
I was seated at the back of a very big church. The preacher was busy preaching. I do not remember the message very well because there was a lot going on in my mind at that time. The message finished without my getting anything from it. Immediately when the preacher left the pulpit, a gentleman went up front. I heard every word that man said. “There is somebody who is going through body pains, including diarrhea and coughing. This is full blown AIDS. God is saying this disease is not leading to death, but that the glory of God may be seen in this. Let such a one come up front.”
I did not go up front because of the stigma and discrimination attached to HIV/ AIDS. Fear and pride kept me from going.
When time came for me to go to college, I struggled … until I searched for that same man. When I found him, he said, “Yes, you are the one.” He asked me what my plans were. Because he was with a pastor friend, I told him I was planning to have an HIV/AIDS test done. If found positive, he recommended I come out in the open and advocate for positive living with HIV/AIDS. They counseled me on how to do it in a Christian way. Then I left for college.
It was towards our final examination in August 2001 – I went to Copper Belt province of Zambia where I had some relatives, and no one was ready to stay with me because of my condition. I remember my elder brother commenting on someone who appeared HIV, advocating for positive living with HIV/ AIDS. My brother’s response was: “He is positive alright. Positively dying!”
It was very tough for me. I decided to stay by myself in a one of the compounds. There I got very sick to the point of death.
One day I decided to have a HIV/ AIDS test at a nearby clinic. The test came came out HIV positive. This was February 2002. I was asked by the Home Based Care Centre to help sensitization of HIV/AIDS patients. I worked for four months, then left for Eatern Province where my mum said, “My son, you have lost a lot of weight. What is wrong? Let’s hope that you have not come back here to be buried just as your siblings.”
I said, “Ahh – no mum.”
I went to my small house and laid down there. I could see where they were seated; hear what they were saying. I heard mum talking to her younger sister and some other ladies who came to visit. ”He died a very young man” … implying I was also dying just like my two sisters and brother.
Inside the house on my own mat, I started wondering, Does she know that I am HIV positive?
I could not stay with my brother and mom any longer. I left for Chipata town. I started renting. One day I decided to open up to my good friend about my status. He said nothing much. His concern was about the lady I was planning to have a family with. I told him I would disclose my status to her when the right time came.
My good friend was also going through some challenges. His job was terminated, so we were engaged in a lot of drinking and drug abuse.
One day during one of the HIV/AIDS workshops, I disclosed my HIV/AIDS status, and one lady who happened to know me and the family of the lady I wanted to marry — she broke the news to them.
When the workshop was over, my fiancé asked if we could meet as usual. I agreed. When I saw her she was not herself. I knew that something was bothering her because her eyes were swollen. When I inquired, she told me that she was told about my HIV/AIDS status. I told her that I was not trying to hide it from her but I hadn’t quite known how to break the news to her.
She told me how she came to know of my status and how the family had decided on the matter — that they wanted her to go to school and have no more relationship between the two of us. She told me how the family wanted to know if we had sex before. She answered, “No.” When I asked her why she didn’t tell the truth, she told me that she was afraid of the consequences.
As she was telling me all this, in my mind … I was thinking: This is my last day on this earth. I will take my life. But I told her to go for an HIV/AIDS test as well so she could know. We parted around 6:00 p.m.
Soon thereafter I received a call from a friend saying that we should meet. My plan was to throw myself in front of a moving vehicle after drinking and smoking so that people would think it was an accident.
That night we began drinking, but I never got drunk. When I shared to my good friend that my relationship with my fiance had been broken off, he could not handle it. And because he was so upset by hearing the sad news, I decided not to tell him of my plan to commit suicide.
The area where I was staying was very dangerous. You could not walk a distance of 200 metres without meeting with deadly thugs. Between 1 – 2 a.m. I decided to walk to my house, which was about 2km along the Tamac-road, called Great East road, which goes to Malawi. Amazingly, I walked to my room and met neither thug nor vehicle at that suicidal hour.
The next morning, around 8 a.m., I heard a knock on my door. When I opened it, there stood my fiancé. She gave me a letter. It was addressed to me. It read: Dear Mulamu (brother in law). As a family we believe and will stand with you in this situation. Doubting God is as bad as witchcraft. So can you come for prayers? I broke down in tears because I had almost taken my life night the night before.
When I reached the elder brother of my fiancé, he sat with me to counsel me. His question was obvious. He wanted to know if we had shared sex. I answered him, “No,” because I didn’t want to complicate issues.
I was prayed for that very moment. The feeling that I got from that experience was powerful. The body pains that I had disappeared. Instantly I felt lighter and good.
He asked me to go for another HIV/AIDS test, which I was not ready to do because it was not yet time.
I started avoiding the family of my fiancé. I felt like they were putting too much pressure on me.
One day my fiancé invited me to attend a revival meeting at her church, because her father has a ministry. Someone was preaching that day. Bricks and planks were used as chairs. I was sitting in a corner of the structure. The preacher‘s message was: “God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. What God did in the past, He is doing now and He will do tomorrow.”
The preacher got my attention when he said, “Nowadays we have lifted HIV/AIDS above the name of God, as though He can’t heal us of this terrible disease. That is wrong because He surely can!” I felt a connection to that preacher — such that before he could finish his sermon … I was already on the altar!
I do not remember the hand of the preacher touching me, but I could see a hand which was not human touching my forehead. Also, behind me were stretched hands towards me which were like the one on my forehead.
Immediately I fell into these hands. I was made to lay down on something that felt like a mattress. Then I heard voice inside me saying, “I want the glory for what I did.”
I replied, “For what? “Healing me of HIV/AIDS?”
He answered, “What I did in you. Tomorrow go for an HIV /AIDS test.”
I tried to reason with Him. “Why don’t you allow me to gain weight, as that will make sense when I talk about it in the open?”
The same voice said, “I say go be tested tomorrow! Go!. The way you look at things is not the same way I do.”
That was the end of the discussion. He also commanded me not to say anything to anyone before the test. Remember, people in the physical were observing me crying and rolling to and fro. Some thought I had broken one of my body parts because I was rolling on top of the bricks and planking. I finally stood up — shook the dirt off my clothes — sat without any sign of pain of injury. People were waiting to see If I would go limp.
At midnight God visited me again in my room. He took me to the Book of Acts, chapter 12. I never went to sleep again.
Monday I went to the clinic. I looked for a psycho–social counselor but there was no one. I waited for a while. Finally a counselor arrived. I told the counselor why I wanted to do a test. He made me fill out a form. I wrote in the reasons why I wanted to do the test. I wanted to know if God had healed me.
Several minutes after taking the blood samples, he called me in for results. The way he was acting, I felt the results were still going to be the same: HIV positive still.
I heard a voice inside me saying, “Whatever comes out of this will give God the glory.”
The counselor said … “Sir – very few people of your age group are HIV negative so congratulations. You are HIV/ AIDS negative! I cried … then shared with the counselor all of what had happened.
He give me the test results and the official form stating I was no longer an AID’s victim. I took it to my father-in-law. He hung his head low and cried. I went back after three months and again was tested. Again the results came out negative.
Why, me, I wondered? I had been so bitter at God for not healing my two sisters and my brother of AIDS. This is what God said to me later: “I healed you because I want to heal many other sisters and brothers through you.”
I now live to testify of what the Lord has done to me. I believe many have questions. I will be in position to answer some of the questions in the book that I am writing: HIV/AIDS – WHERE IS YOUR STING? I believe God has a lot of lives He’s going to touch from this deathly HIV/AIDS virus He healed me of – Sidney L
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Hello, my name is Joe, and I live in Chatsworth, Ga. At age 17, I asked Jesus to come into my heart, and I believe He did. But I never understood how to get Him into my LIFE until over 20 years later, at the age of 40. All those years I had been telling God what I wanted Him to do, and all that time, He’d been waitng for me to ask Him what He wanted ME to do. Oh, all the wasted years, the broken dreams, hearts, and shattered lives. The family and children whom I loved SO much (and likewise)…GONE. How many times I had begged God to take the drug addiction. How many times I had begged for the return of my children. How many times I had flirted with the thought of suicide, but I never got what I wanted; I only got worse.
Then one day, in an act of total desperation, I fell down on the floor of my lonely home, and began to plead with God, with my whole being (all I had left), “Lord, what do You want from me? What do You want me to do? I don’t really want to die, but I can’t live like this anymore! PLEASE help me! PLEASE tell me what You would have me to do- I’ll do ANYTHING!!!”
Well, it was just that simple. He wanted me – not just my problems. Although I had to struggle for a while with addictions, and ended up in jail ONE LAST time, before I turned everything completely over to Him, and was set completely free; even so, now we have a personal and very loving relationship, instead of just an affair! Now I know that He is MUCH MORE than just some genie in a bottle that you let out to grant a wish, and then put back on a shelf. No, HE’S GOD!!! The more I seek to know His will for me, the more I learn to serve and please Him. And the more I serve and please Him, the more I learn to worship Him. And the more I worship Him, the more and more He pleases me and blesses me, day after day, time and again, over and over; with much more than I would have ever dared to ask for!!! The terrible oppression of over 20 years of acute drug addiction and alcoholism…COMPLETELY GONE!!! Now I’m laughing and ENJOYING LIFE again much more than ever before! And I now have a purpose in life: “TELL OTHERS!!!”
One day, I was painting on the outside of the church building where I was employed, and I was thinking that a lot of people were going to be slow to accept me, because of my terrible past; when I very distinctly heard someone say to me: “You will be a POWERFUL WITNESS!!!” WHOA, I almost fell off the ladder! Soon afterward I was asked if I wanted to help start a jail ministry in that church, and we began to go to the local jail…as MINISTERS, where I spent MUCH of my life (behind bars), and I encouraged others to try giving themselves WHOLLY over to JESUS!!! Many of the inmates knew me; many were once some of my closest friends, back when I was “Joey the Junkie” (or Joey “Jones”, mockingly, as I would do just about anything for another dose), and they were AMAZED at the complete turn around – the difference that the presence of God has made in my life, and what God is doing in and through me! Many of them told me over and over how proud they were of me! But I was quick to tell them that it was certainly nothing that I did; I could never do ANYTHING right! All I did was call on God, and submit my will to Him, and He did (and still does) the rest!!! I told them that He would be just as sure to do the same for them – if only they would freely want Him to do so! But they have to be willing to give it all up – a life of misery, total failure, and slow but sure death…for a life of JOY, COUNTLESS BLESSINGS, and ETERNAL LIFE WITH GOD as our FATHER!!!
And though I am no longer in full time jail ministry, God uses me, almost everyday; and I am proof that there is REALLY hope; a SURE way to break that last needle, ONCE AND FOR ALL; and live a MUCH better life in Christ Jesus, and with all the benefits that come with being a “SON OF GOD!!!”
Listen, maybe someone, somewhere, at sometime will read this, who is standing in the same shoes I used to walk in. My father died at the age of 32, with cirrhosis of the liver, from a life of acute alcoholism. I was 11 years old. Then my mother, who had been a pharmaceutical drug addict, and in and out of Milledgeville State Hospital in her past, died less than two years later, at age 33; I was 13. I was so confused. I felt unloved, unwanted, and so alone…believing the lies of satan. In reality, I had family who loved me and wanted (and tried) to help me, and even more so, I now know that God wanted to help me, but I wouldn’t let anyone close to me. I felt that anyone I loved, DIED! I began to be rebellious against family AND God.
So I started doing other drugs, besides pot, which I had been smoking since around 11; harder stuff, like pills (both uppers and downers), acid (LSD), and psilocybin (psychedelic) mushrooms. Somewhere around 16, I used the needle for the first time. Then at 17, I was court ordered to a Christian drug rehabilitation center in Corpus Christi, TX for one year, where I had asked Jesus to save me, and I even stayed on another year, as a staff member. And I thank God for Roloff Enterprises, and the Lighthouse, where I learned to love God’s word, and some very important values, but I had never totally surrendered my life to Christ. I held on to my rebel pride (proud of what, I may never understand), and that old liar began to whisper once again: “You’re a rebel and an outcast; live hard and die fast!!!”
So I left (before God said to), and there I went again. The choices I made drew me away from God. The deception of satan made me believe that I would always be just like my parents, and that I would die by the age of 32 or 33; I believed it was my destiny!
BU…when I was STILL ALIVE at 35, realizing I had outlived them, I decided that I might live a while longer, after all. I had SO destroyed my life by then. Though I had never been legally married (that is, I had never had a licensed marriage), I had three children by two different women who had lived with me, and I had been divorced two times (there used to be a common law marriage in GA; no more), The youngest 2’s mom shot and killed a man when our daughter Tiffany was one year old, and our son Joseph was only a month old! She was in prison, and after raising these two by myself for three and a half years, the state took them from me (though I loved all my children with all my heart; and vice-versa), because I was jail prone, and had no one else to help with them, when I got into trouble with the law. Then my oldest, Candy (who’s mom had remarried), was mad at me for losing her half brother and sister, and she stopped coming around. There was nothing left to live for…or so I thought.
FINALLY, all the wrong choices and the long hard roads led me RIGHT BACK TO JESUS. I was like I had walked around the world, on burning sand and frozen seas, until I came back to my REASON FOR LIVING – it was JESUS, ready to HEAL and FORGIVE!!!
So, it wasn’t too late for me after all. Several of my past friends are now dead. Some of them died from drug overdoses, and some from drug/alcohol related accidents. Some got killed over drug deals gone bad. Some blew their own brains out. Others are in prison (some for killing others). I think that at least one is now demon possessed, but doesn’t realize it, or else can’t accept it, in order to deal with it. I am very blessed to be alive, and have my sanity; much less all the benefits that have now come from turning to God. Oh, but to think of how sweet my life could have been, if I had simply trusted God to begin with. Nonetheless, life is great, because God is SO GOOD!!! So LOVING and FORGIVING!!!
People, please don’t ever walk away from God. Believe me, His way is SO MUCH BETTER! If You have left God’s will, please come back, right now, today! Each day separated from God produces destruction, ruin, and death, but each day in His presence adds to life, and that more and more abundantly, as each new day unfolds! May God bless you more and more, as you seek to please Him.
“Thank You, God, for loving us SO MUCH!!!” – Joe R.
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The devil is behind the wounds of rejection. Lucifer, an angel of light, rejected God by rebelling against Him and leading a revolt that turned one third of God’s heavenly army against Him. Lucifer rejected God, who made him, and became the source of rejection for all mankind. The angel of light is now the ruler of darkness, a liar, and an accuser. Rejection begets rejection.
Rejection: no human soul can enter this world and avoid it. Adam and Eve, the first parents of the human race, certainly felt the sting of rejection upon being driven out of paradise. Adam, created by God and in His image, rejected the One who named Him and gave him his identity. In doing so, Adam rejected himself. All was well until he believed the lie that says ‘you are less than who God created you to be.’ Rejection begets rejection.
I have never cast a devil out of a person who has not experienced rejection and can easily recount its pain. If you know who and whose you are, you will overcome rejection. But if you don’t, you are an easy target for the enemy’s lies. Envy, jealousy, and even hate have their roots in rejection. If we compare and contrast the worth of our lives by looking outside of us rather than within us, we become less than who God made us to be. We are most vulnerable to the devil when we lose sight of the blessings of who we are and what God has given us.
Rejection attacks the very person that we are, so it is the most effective weapon for our destruction. Jesus said, “Him that comes to me I will in no wise cast him out” (John 6:37). Christ values you and in Him you value yourself. The wounds of rejection have no place to fester in a person who has found their acceptance in Christ. Jesus died to heal all our sorrows, including the deathly blow of rejection. He paid the price for our deliverance on the cross. Entrust yourself to him and ask him to deliver you and heal every wound. In time, you will totally forgive all who have mistreated you. He will lead you out of abusive relationships to real relationships of truth and light. In Christ alone, you will step out of the endless cycle of rejection into the paradise of loving acceptance.
by Linda Lariscy
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“No need for me to apologize or get all teary-eyed, but my life could have been different if I had waited on God’s direction in my life
I found love, or so I thought I had. He was so handsome. He was everything I had wanted in a man. Great sex, handy around the house and he could cook. Enchilada’s, tacos, spaghetti, cornbread; yes, cornbread. I gained 30+ pounds from his cooking and his love
People around me saw the difference he made in my life and I flaunted how happy I was. We went every where together. The mall, movies, car shows, restaurants, you name it, we did it. Our life together was perfect
Well, so I thought.
See when you don’t rely on God’s guidance and move from the feelings inside your head, your heart and for your magazine’s sake, down below under the skirt, you can be easily steered away
Our romance lasted nearly 6 months before things went sour
He wasn’t jealous. He wasn’t abusive. He was just a liar. He lied about everything he had ever told me. He lied about working. He lied about having a degree. He lied, lied, lied and I became furious with him after each lie after another starting falling into my lap
I could have swallowed all of those lies, but what I couldn’t swallow was the lie about our relationship.
Now when I look back over our brief time together, it all makes sense. Those nights when he had to leave me because his boss needed him. Those weekends when he couldn’t be with me because of again, his boss. How could I had been so stupid, so desperate?
Well, needless to say, he was married and I was the other woman. The woman he played with. Had sex with. Lied to over and over!!!
It all came to an end when all I wanted him to do was confess he was married, but he kept lying to me and before I knew it I had stabbed him. In my fury, I stabbed him over and over. For each lie he had ever told me, but that wasn’t the right way to handle my fury, my disappointment
I am now sitting in a women’s prison for attempted murder, doing 20 years. I look back over my life and say to myself, why didn’t I wait on God? Why didn’t I consult Him and keep Him front and center? Why did I allow the enemy to bait me? There are a lot of why’s in my life, but I have nothing but time to find the answers. Well, maybe I already know the answers to all my why’s
I was just like you, wanting to be in a relationship so bad that I didn’t take the time to consult God.
I pray my testimony will encourage others to wait patiently on God. Pray for me aes I need your prayers – JS
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We all hear stories of how a relationship where one partner is incarcerated doesn’t work. I know many couples who successfully navigate this process. Relationships are as varied as the partners themselves and as in all types of relationships no right or wrong way exists. Couples who manage to make this look easy have a few things in common. These couples use a mix of the following things to keep their relationships fresh and manageable:
Good Attitude: You have heard the expression: Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. From having an open-spirit, to being strong-willed, to being more optimistic, your experience is directly related to your attitude. They don’t fret over things they can’t control.
Mode of communication: Communication is the backbone of any relationship. Letters, calls, email, visits, doesn’t matter as long as you communicate. Communication tricks distance. No matter how far apart you are, reading a letter or hearing a voice will instantly transport you to where they are. Always find a way. Remember, quality matters over quantity.
Support System: Family, friends, church members, support groups, anyone willing to accept you and offer you an ear is someone you want to have in your corner. You need an outlet to release the baggage you might not know you are carrying. Anyone in this life doesn’t get through it alone, isolation breeds misery. Happy couples know this.
Memento: A picture, piece of clothing, DNA, quite honestly something to obsess over. You want to create the illusion your partner is with you. The picture in your heart works, but over time things fade. Couples who make it work express their devotion in endless pictures, t-shirts, cards, etc.
YOU: “And the two shall become one”…this sounds great on greeting cards and as a notion to live by when having a relationship, but not so much in the case of losing oneself under all things prison related. None of this is possible without you. You are the one who answers the calls. You are the one making the trips, sending the packages, getting the money orders. You are the one paying the bills, raising kids, maintaining homes, going to school….AND taking care of your partner. You are the one making sure your partner maintains some level of comfort. Take care of you! Successful couples never forget comfort for both partners is essential.
What does your kit contain?
Written by Reesy
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