Archive for the ‘Testimonies’ Category

Today I had the privilege to share a little about the blood and body of Christ with my home church. We have been going through quite a transition lately because the pastor of forty years has retired. When I say retired I mean he has step down from being pastor; I don’t suppose he will ever stop sharing the gospel but for now he is no longer our pastor. This means others have to step up and fill in the gap left by his departure.

We usually celebrate the Lord’s supper or communion on the last Sunday of the month so today was the day. Joe Scott moved into the role of preacher today and when the time came for us to take the bread and juice of communion he asked me to come and share a bit, so I gladly did.

As most, who have attended church regularly and have participated in communion services before, know there are two elements set on the table–one being the juice, or wine, symbolizing the blood of Christ and the other being bread symbolic of His body. I shared with them how most understand the blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins, but many have never even stopped to think about what the body part is all about. The scriptures tell us “without the shedding of blood there is no remission, or forgiveness, of sins.” So, in other words, the blood deals with our sins, meaning plural, or sins we have committed but what about the body?

The bread, or body side, has yet another significance. As I have heard it put “The body death” deals with the sin-maker. It is an amazing thing to know that Jesus’ bloodshed covered, or dealt with my sins, but it is an altogether other thing to know the death of His body did away with the “Sinner.” Let me see if I can explain it this way. If I wanted to get rid of all the alcohol in this country I could go around to every house, grocery, liquor store and bar and smash millions of bottles but that wouldn’t really solve the alcohol problem would it? No! The reason is because the factories, or distilleries that bottle the liquor, would still be producing them. So if I really wanted to do the job correctly I would deal with the bottles, but I wouldn’t stop there, I would shut down the place producing it. This is exactly what God has done in Jesus Christ’s blood and body death on the cross. His blood was shed for our sins, or deeds, and His body died to shut down the sin-producer.

All of us were born with what is commonly known as a “sinful-nature” except Jesus. He of course was born of a virgin therefore bypassing the sinful-nature in order for Him to live a sinless life. Since He was sinless He was the perfect candidate to take our sins upon himself in order to redeem us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” What this is telling us is Jesus became what we were, our sin-bearer, so we could become what He was which is the righteousness of God. Wow! This is indeed “Good News” isn’t it?

We were crucified with Christ in order for us to be set free from the Sin master. Romans six tells us we are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness but we are always a slave. You see in the fall Adam actually joined himself to the sin-boss, Satan himself. In Ephesians 2 we read how all of us “used to walk according to the world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.”

God created humanity to be containers or vessels in which He could dwell. The Bible tells us we are temples, branches, vessels, bodies etc. We were always meant to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God but in the fall another spirit, the spirit of error, the spirit of the prince of the power of the air came to live within us. A spirit requires a body in which to live therefore in order to rid us of the deceitful, indwelling spirit of error we had to die. This is the whole point of the cross and us being co-crucified with Christ. A spirit needs a body so when Christ died on the cross with us in Him the spirit of the god of this world left and God raised Him and us out of death by way of His Holy Spirit who now dwells in us. God has moved back into His property.

The blood of Jesus Christ shed for the remission of sins is His job alone we do not participate in it in anyway. The body, on the other hand, includes us for we too have been crucified, buried and raised to walk in newness of life in Him. The spirit of error has been cast out never to enter into our inner man again. That’s not to say he doesn’t shout at us from the outside and tempt us to join him, but the difference is now we can say no to him whereas before he ruled us. Thankfully we have a new boss now and His name is Jesus!

Louie

Throughout life we are all called to move on from time to time. Sometimes the workplace we’re in becomes too much or maybe we simply have an opportunity to move into something we find more suitable for us and our family. The same could be said about a church. Maybe we’ve been called to go out from the environment, or group, we’ve been with for many years either way how we go is very important. We can either go out with joy, or we can go out dragging hurt feelings and offenses, it’s really our choice in the end.

Sometimes we find ourselves divorced and remarried but we never really healed or dealt with the hurt that caused the division to begin with. This is what some would call baggage. You know what I’m talking about. We leave a situation, whether it be a job, church or even a marriage, and take all of those same problems with us into the next job, church or marriage. So at first it may seem like a fresh, new start, but give it time. The “stuff” you carried with you out of the one comes along into the next. Maybe we’re attempting to solve an inner problem by outer means. There’s an old tale that addresses this very subject I would like to share with you, and I hope you take it to heart because it really doesn’t matter if we move to the moon if we don’t do it with the right heart and attitude.

Back in the days when the settlers were moving to the West, a wise man stood on a hill outside a new Western town. As the settlers came from the East, the wise man was the first person they met before coming to the settlement. They asked eagerly what the people of the town were like.

He answered them with a question: “What were the people like in the town you just left?”

Some said, “The town we came from was wicked. The people were rude gossips who took advantage of innocent people. It was filled with thieves and liars.”

The wise man answered, “This town is the same as the one you left.”

They thanked the man for saving them from the trouble they had just come out of. They then moved on further west.

Then another group of settlers arrived and asked the same question: “What is this town like?”

The wise man asked again, “What was the town like where you came from?” These responded, “It was wonderful! We had dear friends. Everyone looked out for the others’ interest. There was never any lack because all cared for one another. If someone had a big project, the entire community gathered to help. It was a hard decision to leave, but we felt compelled to make way for future generations by going west as pioneers.”

The wise old man said to them exactly what he had said to the other group: “This town is the same as the one you left.”

These people responded with joy, “Let’s settle here!”

How they viewed their past relations was their scope for their future ones.

Louie—- the wise man story was taken from John Bevere “The Bait of Satan”

Approximately one year ago Tracey and I spent a few days at what might be called a halfway house for women. It is a place where women, coming from jail, drug addiction, abusive situations or maybe even all three, go to get a new start and learn how to live in the freedom of Christ.

While there are many, many recovery programs available this one is completely focused on the Bible and Jesus Christ. It is based in a church and headed by a lady with a heart for these broken women. You can tell within just a few minutes she loves what she’s doing and loves these women and they love her.

One lady, who Tracey met in jail, went through the program and was living in a house directly across the street from the church. Not only was she helped, she decided to stick around and help others through their journey. When Tracey met her she had been in and out of jail numerous times and, like many others, just couldn’t seem to get it together. She had spent a great deal of her life on drugs and all the things that particular lifestyle involves. One night after being free for a while, and becoming fugitive of the week, she found herself back in jail. As Tracey walked beside her on the way to the church service; she looked at Tracey sort of dejected and said, “Why do you even care?” For me this was the best story yet, because sometimes people have heard the gospel message so many times they almost seem inoculated to it, but this time she not only heard but saw the gospel. You see Tracey didn’t condemn her or look down on her she simply was present walking beside her during her moment of need. As a Christian our job is to express Christ and one of the ways we do that is simply by being there for others. Sometimes it may even be after someone has made repeated trips in and out of jail.

Anyway, this lady had been living across the street from the church where these young women go to celebrate recovery meetings, attend church services, sing songs etc. Even though she had gone through the program and had come a long way she still seemed to have a bit of a problem handling offenses and solving relationship problems. This isn’t meant to be a knock on her, we all have to work through how to deal with others from time time, I’m just mentioning this because it plays into the story I’m about to tell you.

There was one particular young lady who had arrived just a few days before we did. We were told a judge allowed her to participate in this “halfway house/rehabilitation program” rather than sending her to prison. Her and her husband had a history of drug addiction, and in fact her husband had actually smuggled some pills in to her during a visit and it was discovered. The judge could have sent her to prison for this but miraculously he allowed her to stay on but her husband could no longer visit. Without going through all the extra details let me just say, the day Tracey and I were scheduled to leave the pastor called us and told us this young ladies husband had killed himself the night before. We were asked  if we could meet them at the church, and of course we said yes, and were on our way.

On our way there it dawned on me to ask the lady living across the street to join us. I thought, she’s having a tough time right now and what could be better for her than to help someone else. Besides, her husband had died while she was in jail, so she would have a better understanding of what this young lady was going through than any of us. God himself had orchestrated this whole thing so the one could comfort the other with the comfort she herself had been given.

When we got to the church I felt somewhat like a trapped animal that didn’t know where to go or what to do, and part of me just wanted to run away.  Even though Tracey and I have taught and prayed with many people, involved in some very bad situations, for me this one was going to be the most difficult. These are the times when the Holy Spirit becomes more real than any other, because there is absolutely no way I could have gotten through it otherwise. I know some of you are saying what do you mean you? What about the young lady? I know, I know she definitely had more to deal with than we did, but there we were. What do I say? What could I possible do to comfort her? Do I keep silent, hug her, pat her or stay far, far away from her? I know one thing to do and that was to pray, pray, pray!

We all gathered in the sanctuary and someone turned some music on quietly in the background. Thankfully there were two ladies there that gently broke the news to her, and she started wailing uncontrollably as we silently prayed. As they consoled her we all took turns, although feebly, speaking life and encouragement to her the best we could. For the most part I didn’t say much, but we sat with her for about three hours and it seemed like fifteen minutes. God truly shows up in the most painful of life’s situations and brings comfort in the way only He can. As our time with them came to an end it dawned on me that I do have something to tell her. I shared with her how three of my friends had passed away, directly or indirectly, because of drugs. One was killed, one became ill and passed away, and the other committed suicide.

I shared with this young lady how for a while I actually felt guilty for being alive. I looked around and thought to myself, “It isn’t fair that my friends have died and I’m still alive. I lived just as dangerously as they had, so why am I still alive?” I told her,”Do not take guilt for being a survivor! Whatever you do don’t do that to yourself. The greatest thing you can do is to get sober and live for Christ and your children. That’s what your husband would have wanted.”

This took place close to a year ago and it seemed a bit too fresh to share it then but now it seems right. I hope you have been touched by this story and you would say a prayer for this young lady and her family. This isn’t something you ever get over, but with the Spirit of the God of all comfort living in you there is a way to get through. We are called to “Rejoice with those that rejoice, and weep with those who weep” this time it was the weeping part hopefully we will see her again and get to do a little rejoicing with her.

Louie

 

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At the finish line!

I was asked by a co-worker if I wanted to participate in a 5k race that the work place would pay for? She would run with me and hang out. I agreed and was looking forward to the event several weeks away. Before the 5k “Trot for Troops” race, my co-worker found other employment and was no longer in the event. I was let down but texted her the night before to inquire if she would be there. She answered yes so we looked forward to seeing each other.

The morning of the race I began to feel anxiety, not sure what to expect, what to do with my thin hair, you know; the little details that daunt you before something you have never done before. So needless to say, I was not looking forward to the task. I left early, got my number and starting seeing my other co-workers who were also running. I noticed I was getting excited and looking forward to the race. I had decided to run to compete not as to run with someone. Although I run on a regular basis, I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out.

My co-workers and I started out all together, the Fort Campbell Army band was there playing live music. We all got a little teary when the Star Spangled Banner was sung so beautifully. This was it, we pledged the allegiance to the flag, the announcements were made, the sirens were blaring and the race was on. It started with the mile fun run followed by the 5K and finally the 10k which would keep running further.

It was cold, cloudy and windy but there was no rain. We started out in a huddle and as we ran on the bypass, the crowd thinned out. Next we turned down Gary Lane which is a country road. People stood on the side as we passed by cheering us on as we went. I could see the runners’ way up ahead and thought, “I have a ways to go, yet.” I was starting to warm up and kept saying to myself not to stop. Once I reached the turn around sight, there was a table with little cups of water. I took one and tried to breathe while drinking, but it only made things worse as I started back the way I came. I was passing my co-workers and slapping them the high five as we encouraged one another. I noticed at this point there were less and less people around me and could hear myself breathing heavily.

After I passed the 2.5 mile mark, I knew I was almost there, but I was hot and my legs and stomach were getting wearisome, I really felt like walking, but I didn’t want the “guy” behind me to pass me. My mind went to Paul in the Bible and how he said to run the race to the finish. I was thinking that this race is like when we stand before God and will answer to Him for our time on earth. Nobody can answer for you; it will just be you and Him on that day. I never want to give up; I never want to give up on me or on anyone who is looking through me for Jesus. I felt like this was not just a physical race but a spiritual race as well.

Now I was on the bypass again and could see the YMCA where we started. I felt like I was alone and wanted to quit, but then I saw a co-worker named Chase, he was smiling so big, clapping and telling me I was doing a good job. I could feel my stomach wanting to throw up anything that was in it, but about that time, I was passing a line of American flags and the band was playing, “You’re amazing just the way you are.” As I noticed some other people I knew, I started to cry because I was so happy that I did it. I looked at the time clock and it read 32:00. I couldn’t believe it, a little over thirty minutes. I had never done anything like this in my whole life. It felt amazing. It was so hard, but I pushed through, and I did it. I am so thankful to Heritage bank for making this happen and for my co-workers who rooted for me. This whole experience has strengthened my faith tremendously.

Tracey

84 Can do moreSome people never go to their high school reunions; my husband is one of them, but he did attend my 30 year class reunion with me. We were the class of 84, from Hammond Baptist High School in Schererville, Ind., with approx 77 graduates. There has been a five, a ten, twenty and a thirty year reunion and I have enjoyed them all. Each has been different and I must say, this one has meant the most to me. For one, it landed on my birthday and everyone wished me a happy birthday. Second, this group of people is full of love and life.

We pulled into town and Louie and I were invited to a fish fry my class-mate and friend, Steve was having at his in-law’s house. After stopping off at the hotel to freshen up and inviting a few more friends who wanted to spend time with me, we were off to the party. As we walked around to the back yard, smelling the fresh aroma of fish frying, we met up with Steve, his wife, Susan, his brother Dave, and dad. It was a joyous time because they made us feel comfortable and loved. Little did I know that Steve’s youngest daughter shares my same birthday which was a highlight for her and me.

The next afternoon I sent a text to a friend I had not seen since 6th grade to see if she wanted to get together. We lost touch when my parents decided to send me to Hammond Baptist School after being at Calumet Baptist for a few years; which is where Celeste and I became fast friends. When I told her Louie and I was coming for a visit, she asked me, “What do you want for your birthday?” I told her, “I just want to see you.”

Fun at the fish fry

The firs time we have seen each other in 36 yrs.

She came to the hotel where we were staying as I anxiously watched for her truck to pull in the parking lot. When I went out to greet her, tears came to my eyes; I couldn’t believe we were together again. I was reminded of why I miss her so much. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her because I was searching the adult for the child in her. Then she smiled and there she was, my best friend. I brought some pictures to show her and a letter she had written to me 36 years ago. After I saw her response to the letter, I wanted her keep it so I gave it to her.

Louie and I had been invited for a pre-reunion lunch at TGI Friday’s, we were late and everyone had ordered, but it worked out fine. When we walked in to meet the eight class mates, I started to cry because everyone was so happy to see us. Seeing and being with them was like a warm blanket on a cold day. I just couldn’t believe how great it was to be with them.Lisa and Marc asked about what we were doing so we talked about jail and prison ministry. I told them I had written a book and they were so proud of me. We all talked and listened and never got tired or bored. Vicki told us of how she shot a deer and how it made her feel. It was intriguing to see her so excited. I watched her husband Dale, who is also a class mate, listen to her tell her story and could visibly see the love he has for her, on his face.

84 reunion

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Lisa told us of a story of how she is able to minister to high powered women in a biblical way without using religious words. She is talking Spirit to them while teaching them who they are on the inside. As she told the story with passion and from a place way down inside her heart you could tell how much she is changing these women she talks to.

After a short nap and applying glue-on nails, it was time to go to the reunion. We weren’t the first to arrive but got there in time to unpack the memorabilia they asked us to bring. It was so much fun seeing what everyone brought and the pictures of us 30 years ago. We were there to make new memories as well, like the group photo, when John was making us all laugh so hard because the photographer was getting him to move here and there.

We had a cake; they sliced it up to hand out, but waited until they gave me a piece with a candle on it. The DJ played, “It’s your birthday” which was a surprise to me. He also played 80’s music which got us remembering all those crazy days. One girl told me that she remembers me telling her she could be a model some day, which she has never forgotten. Louie and I were blessed by everyone we talked to. I loved taking pictures and enjoying the company, I didn’t want to leave. I don’t think any of us did.

On our way home we reminisced about the experience and I heard Louie say to me about my class as a whole, that they are “successful, healthy, kind and genuine.” This is coming from a guy who didn’t grow up in church like we did, he went to a public school and didn’t have quite as strict Christian parents. His dad took him to church, but nothing like the way we were raised. So, coming from Him it really meant something.

All I know is that 30 years later, I didn’t think I would feel empowered by my class mates to know that I am not the only one. They go through the same things I go through as a 48 year old. I love my class and I miss them in between the 10 years. I wouldn’t take anything for the journey we all went through. Looking back, it was what shaped us for the adults that we are today. Our parents didn’t know what an impact it would make in our lives but God knew; He had a plan. I’m so thankful for God’s grace and mercy on our lives. He is so good and loves us so much. One of our class mates mentioned about how in his life now he is a salesman, but the reason he is so successful is because of what he learned going to teenage soul winning every Saturday while growing up. His experience of doors being slammed in his face and walking door to door telling others of Jesus and His love gave him what he needed to be brilliant at his job today.

The after glow of this time together still grows as I see relationships rekindled. I think that maybe we are getting older, wiser and appreciate the small things in life, but 30 years later, we still love like we did when we were young.

Tracey

 

Tracey and Alan Parker at the "God Unlimited weekend 2014"

Tracey and Alan Parker at the “God Unlimited weekend 2014″

Have you ever had an experience and said afterward, “I never want to lose this feeling?” Well, I am here to thank God for the experience I had and I want to tell you it is not a feeling. For the past five years we have attended the God Unlimited Enrichment weekend in Louisville, Ky., with our friends, Brian and Tandy Coatney, at the home of Scott and Sylvia Pearce. The first year we went, my husband and I didn’t think we would be back. It seemed like everyone was saying the same thing in a different way, and although that was true, it would prove an attraction for us in the future. Every year has its own precious jewels that develop into life changing lifestyles.

This year is no different. Some of the same people were there and even the same things were said over and over, but there was one particular difference. It was me. I am different, and I feel like my life has changed forever. It’s one of those pivotal moments you can put your finger on. I must interject, that there was a series of events that lead up to this life-changing experience. One of the elements included suffering, then perseverance, and it was all upheld by faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the Universe, which, by the way, lives inside me.

It would be hard to explain to you what it means to be loved with an unconditional, everlasting love if you have never experienced Him. Being loved by Jesus is the touch of love, “I can’t touch you without being touched by you,” said Alan Parker. Love is the greatest gift you can give to another, but please remember that God is love. He gives of Himself to others, He is a poured out life so others can live. It was never about how much we love Him, because we have no power within ourselves to love others unless it’s with His love.

As my husband and I wrapped up in a blanket on the cold Friday afternoon under the tent at the conference, we saw a distinguished man and his older son walking up “Mimi’s Way,” which is a cobblestone walkway which leads to the back of the Pearce’s house in memory of our dear Mimi Anderson. “Who is that, do you think?” I said to Louie. “I think that is Alan Parker,” he replied. I kept an eye on him trying to make sure that was him. I had been looking forward to meeting Alan Parker ever since I read “THE CROSS IN THE HEART OF GOD” booklet. Let me quote the introduction of this booklet and see if it does to you, what it did for me: “This is written for those people who want to receive the truth, for only they are going to posses the Kingdom of God. This is written for seekers. These writings have nothing to say to those who are wise in the wisdom of the world.”

Later on that evening Alan gave a talk that lasted almost 3 hours. I got as close as I could and listened by sitting at the edge of my seat. I wanted to absorb everything he had to say because I know he speaks the truth of God. I admire this man and wanted to know everything he knew. I am not sure what draws me to his teachings, but I hung on to every word. The next day, Alan spoke again, this time not as long. He talked about Hebrews 4:12, He said the Word is alive, conscious, and it knows and it’s energy. The word of faith is God’s faith, not ours. He said, “Do you know why the word of faith has no doubt? That’s because it’s His faith, His word, His life, the life of the Son. He continued to say, “You can never be Christ, but He can be you.”

Alan quoted the passage of James 1:5 which says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, without doubt and it will be given.” Alan asked if anyone wanted Wisdom, to come up front and ask without doubting. I said to Louie, “Come on, let’s go.” I told him I wanted Wisdom, so I ran up there. I was third in line. After Alan prayed with the first person, he knew it would take too long to pray individually, so we all stood in a giant circle and prayed in our own voices and asked for Wisdom. Guess what, the Spirit of Wisdom penetrated my inner being and I knew it. I started getting filled up, tears ran down my face and I began to giggle from way down deep inside, my breathing started to accelerate and I felt dizzy, but Louie was close by and I grabbed him and said, “don’t let me go.” I knew something supernatural happened to me. I felt like running, but I couldn’t leave. I can’t say I understand everything that happened to me, but what I do know is Wisdom has been here all along, I just didn’t hear from her (Proverbs 8:1 tells us she is wisdom). The first part of Proverbs 2 tells us seek her, wisdom, verse 4, “if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures.” I desired her and sought after her and found her. God has opened my eyes to understanding and I have become more sensitive to the Spirit of the Lord.

Since this time, I feel humbled by His love and hear Him more than ever before. I am looking forward to my new life in Christ as He lives in me as me. Thank you, Jesus for loving me so much and for giving me opportunities to be a life poured out for you and to invest and have you change lives through me. The branch never takes credit for producing the fruit, we bear the fruit. Others see this fruit and are drawn to it, they take the fruit and it is Jesus. He is a person to experience not something simply to obtain. We have no power by ourselves, but are a vessel that He works in and through. I asked for the Spirit of Wisdom to live in me and that is why she (Wisdom) is a person and not a feeling. Wisdom and understanding now are in me always, never leaving me, but changing me from glory to glory forevermore.

Tracey

There’s an old Bruce Springsteen song called “Glory days” that tells the story of running into an old friend in a bar and all he wanted to talk about is what some call “The good ole days.” Do you think that’s a sign of getting old? While I understand the attraction of being pulled into another place and time when talking with old friends; why aren’t we living right now?

There is nothing I would take for my youth, or the friends or experiences I’ve had, but at the same time I don’t want to miss the life I’m living right now either. The past is as good as it’s going to get. What do you say we learn to live in the present full of the hope of a glorious future?

Who are you right now? You may have identified yourself as a great athlete, writer, singer, carpenter or friend but what about now? What are your hopes and dreams for the future? Who is in your life right now that you are helping along the way? When was the last time you encouraged someone else and told them what God has done in your life?

Tracey recently came across a journal, or diary, that documented our lives together from around 1992 to 2001. Wow! To hear some of what went on during my B.C. days is kind of tough, and yet I thought I was having the time of my life. Boy, was I deceived. As she read some of the entries to me I must admit it made me cringe. To hear about my outlook on life back in my addiction days is painful, and somewhat embarrassing, if I’m honest with you. Thankfully God saw fit to intervene, open our eyes, and reveal the truth to us.

Last night we went to the women’s prison to share our story and teach the Word. Tracey shared a bit about the diary and how messed up we were. There are many who never knew us back then and they seem to think we’ve always had it together. Well, thanks to Tracey they know better now! She spilled the beans and told them we all go the wrong way first but thank God he shows us how to get back on the path if we’re willing to receive his direction.

When my turn came to speak I began by reading Titus 3:3-7 to them. “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Sometimes the best thing you can do for others is to simply tell them how much you’ve messed up in the past. It is amazing how encouraging it is to others for them to hear how you screwed things up too. Then you can take the opportunity to tell them how God turned things around. Once God comes in to your life, you will begin to take glances at your past, but you will finally be free to live in the present and begin looking forward to the future.

Louie