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Below you will find encouraging, real-life stories of people who have been CHANGED by Jesus. Jesus can change YOUR life, too! These stories were found at precioustestimonies.com by clicking into a link called Born Again Testimonies.
CONVINCED I WAS A CHRISTIAN
By: Michael Fackerell
Many people have amazing dramatic testimonies. Its true - some people get off drugs miraculously and quickly become the most radiant, wonderful joyful people so quickly that you can wonder: "God, what about the rest of us?" I am one person who had a gradual conversion experience. Later there were moments of profound spiritual experiences with God, but initially, I was very stubborn and it took God a long time to get me to be willing to change.
I grew up in a Christian family. I was baptized as a baby in the Dutch Reformed church. Dad would always read a portion of the Bible after the evening meal and we learned to pray before meals. As a result, I grew up with lots of knowledge of the Bible. I thought I was a Christian because I believed the Bible was God's Word and that Jesus died for me. However, Jesus was not really the Lord of my life. I did not really know him at all, though I knew all about him. Although I believed totally in the existence of God, I'd have to acknowledge that, for the most part, during my childhood and adolescent years, I never experienced or knew God personally.
It's easy to be religious without knowing God. I'm sure there are still many people like that today. I wasn't only religious though. I was proud. Very proud. This pride made me obnoxious to others and as a result I suffered from lots of rejection as a grew up. I felt the pain of this intensely for many years. However, I seemed powerless to change myself, nor did I really want to. Instead, I resolved to prove my worth and significance by academic achievement. It mattered a lot to me to prove I was smarter than everyone else. I couldn't stand to lose even a game of chess. I used to cry when that happened or when my classmates mocked me. This only made matters worse. The result was that I was very miserable. My belief in the doctrines of the Bible did not seem to help me.
Hyper-sensitivity was not my only problem. I was also extremely critical of others, negative and unpleasant to be with. I'm not saying I am perfect or wonderful now, but I can say that Jesus has made a big difference to my personality. For many years though, I rejected Jesus also. I did this because I desperately wanted to be in charge of my own life. I was happy for Jesus to be my Savior, but not my Lord. I wanted to go my own way and somehow prove that I was great. My motives for acknowledging Christianity had more to do with a desire to be right even if others were wrong. I didn't care about others at all, but due to the influence of my parents I did have some moral principles which I generally stood by, though not perfectly. One of these was honesty. In the end, it was the love for the truth which God put in me which helped me to humble myself and receive God's love into my life. It didn't happen instantly. It was a process.
In the Anglican church in which I grew up, it was very commonplace to do Bible studies. I was very proud of my ability to know the stories and have an opinion on everything. I grew up with the feeling that I had the right religion and that I was better than other people. I was so proud of my academic results at school also. I looked down on others and had little regard for their feelings. As a result I failed to develop socially.
As I entered into adolescence I had a hyper-active mind. It was constantly thinking and planning according to the thought "What's in it for me?" It was constantly seeking to inform me of things to feed my pride. My grandmother said to me a few years ago, "Michael, when you were growing up, you were a ball of pride."
At the same time I was convinced that I was a Christian. I knew I had sins and was basically selfish, but I had confidence that I was saved because I mentally assented to the idea that Jesus Christ died in my place. I convinced myself that I had God's forgiveness even though I was still living for myself. There were times, however, when certain people made me uneasy, because of their obvious joy in serving God. There was something about certain people that made me very uncomfortable with myself. I now know that was the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, when he first comes to us, makes us realize that God is good and we are rotten sinners. During times when this was happening to me, I was always waiting for an escape so I could get back to enjoying my various hobbies and avaricious pursuits.
After finishing high school, I went to University determining to be a great computer scientist. I was already passionate about computers. I'd written my first commercial game program at 14 in 1980 and I know now that the love of computers (which were essentially tools to praise me and my cleverness) was a major form of idolatry in my life. But I was sure I was a Christian! I had felt sorry about some of my sins and had even asked Jesus into my heart! I was doing what others in church were doing! I could discuss theology with the best of them! I was outwardly moral, principled etc. - but utterly self-centered.
The one thing I was most uncomfortable with in those days was telling others about Jesus. Being socially backwards and with lots of acne on my face, it was not something I wanted to do. I felt uncomfortable with strangers.
But there came a day when a young ethnic Chinese man from Campus Crusade for Christ gave me a call on the phone and invited me to meet with him. I don't know why I agreed, but I did. Over the next few months with this man, my life began to change. He helped me to start telling the good news about Jesus to others. Doesn't the Scripture say that if we keep on confessing Christ as Lord and believe God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved? Strange as it may seem, it was at this point that I believe I truly surrendered my heart to God. For I had surrendered to Christ the thing I was most unwilling to do for God. And I think until we come to that point, we still have not received Christ as Lord. Until that point, we do not really belong to Christ. I didn't know that Jesus had to be Lord in my life before I could be really part of his spiritual kingdom and receive the forgiveness of sins I needed.
One of the surprising things for me was the joy I found in doing the thing I was most fearful of - to talk with others about Christ. What I found was, Christ became real to me as I went in His name. Before that, I knew lots of Bible and had done some things for God (I thought), but I was still miserable. However, taking these first steps in living for God released a joy and a happiness in me that I was not expecting.
The Bible says that the Kingdom of God is "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit". There is a surprising joy that comes when you give your life to God. That's my experience.
At that stage I was still going to the Anglican church. No one explained to me the importance of being baptized in water as a believer. But I had begun my walk with Jesus - even though there was still plenty of things God needed to change in me. It was later that God brought me to the point of understanding that I should follow the example of the Lord Jesus in baptism.
Since the time I really began to go after God, I've been changed in many ways. I'm learning to think of others more. I really enjoy God's presence and I've learned to humble myself so that God can use me.
There is no way to be at peace with God if you are inwardly rebelling against his desire to govern your life. The only way to be in the Kingdom of Heaven is for Jesus to be your King!
Do You Know Jesus?
Maybe you're not sure now that you buy all this "Jesus stuff" but you're also uncomfortable where you are. Let's talk.
I'm not a minister, or some religious person who thinks he's perfect. I still get angry with people and let my cynicism get me in trouble. But I have a friend who is showing me how to live better and how to show love to the people I meet. His name is Jesus and he has made my life better.
When I left college about 15 years ago I was just your average yuppie scum. I had a good job, a nice apartment, I drank too much and I hated myself. Like so many people my age I had tried to kill myself and spent many nights thinking about how to do it right. I made the connection between my addiction to alcohol and my down feeling so I quit drinking.
My life went to hell. All of my friends were still at the bars. And the more horrifying reality was that the only way I could handle the daily rigors of my career was by numbing myself in booze. I quit my job and found myself trying other things. Finally, I became a courier. I thought it was great. I was never in one place long enough to become a disappointment. My job was straightforward: pick up the package, move on down the road, and drop off the package. No office politics and I could play my music as loud as I wanted. I thought things were great, I had told the world **** and didn't really have to answer to anyone.
Or so I thought. One day when I was punching through the radio looking for something to listen to I tuned in a Christian radio station. The DJ was talking about striping away the masks we hide from the world with: pride, humor, APATHY. I was hit. Now mind you I thought knew what life was all about, I grew up going to church, I even was on a statewide committee of my denomination when I was in high school. I just found it was more interesting to read the Sunday papers than go to church. In all the years in the pew I never really heard anything interesting. But this DJ was laying my life out in front of me. I could run from my problems, I could play my music loud and think I was tuning out the world but in the end I still had to live with myself. And there was something wrong with me.
Sin, darkness, sorrow. These were what were really happening in my life. I could stop drinking, I could give up the suit and tie rat race but I still carried a dark place deep inside of me. I could pretend I didn't care, I could try to deflect it with snide, cynicism but I couldn't make it go away. And I was sick of it. The DJ's answer seemed too simple, "believe Jesus can take it away." But I realized nothing else was going to work. I prayed to Jesus to take my life and use it as he saw fit.
Was the world different? No, but I was. I've struggled as I have followed Jesus since that evening. But He has let me grow.
What about you? What are you addicted to? Drugs, money, sex, success? Death, horror, magic? Jesus is ready to lift your trouble. Not churches, ministers or televangelists. JESUS! He is the Holy and Wise God who became like us, vulnerable, suffering, able to touch and be touched. Why? To overcome the darkness in our lives, to defeat sin with his blood. And to release us to be able to love others as he loved us, wholly, without fear of rejection, without a mask.
Maybe you still aren't sure. Let me urge you to find a follower of Jesus in your community to talk with. Someone who has been there, done that and grown from the experience. Be honest, share your doubts, your fears. A real follower of Jesus won't condemn you for what you have done or what you think but will love you for who you are, another of God's lost children looking for a way home.
My name's Neal and if you want to e-mail me, my address is:
CHANGE OF HEART
There once was a time when I did a lot of runin' and gunin' doing things that today I'm not so proud of. On top of it all I added drugs and alcohol to my madness. I remember one day walking past the bathroom mirror and not even recognizing the person looking back at me. I was a shell of a woman that I did not know. I got close to the face and stared into her eyes and saw the most empty sorrow that I will never forget. There was nothing there ... it scared me! Life was not good and I knew it. Looking back now I can see that I had virtually no life inside of me, only darkness. My life even with my three wonderful children had no meaning.
I believe that I still had an ounce of faith somewhere deep down inside that carried me to the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous. I sat there listening to people talking about their higher power, and how much it helped them. When I asked someone how I could get some of this God thing, they told me to write down on paper what kind of God I had in my life, and on another piece of paper write down what I would like God to be. When I was finished they told me to keep the paper of the one that I wanted God to be and to throw away the other. So I did.
Growing up in a "religious" church, my God was for me a very strict and punishing God. So of course I decided to keep the cool God who I made up to cater to me and only me. I was soon learning to be selfish and self-seeking. I hung onto Him for seven long years and I stayed drug and alcohol free but still very much in the dark. I started to realize how alone I felt inside - I needed more.
I started going to church and every time I would walk in one I would always sit in the back of the room and cry, not knowing why. Then I would need to leave early because I knew something was happening to me and I was scared of it! I ran from church to church until the night of Easter evening, 1997. I was sitting with my head in my hands crying listening to the pastor thinking that he was talking directly to me. I was wondering who told him what to say. Did someone tell him how I felt? How would they know? Just then like so many other times in my life I felt a hand resting on my heart, only this time I knew it was the hand of God. Not the one I made up to keep me sober, but God our creator.
Since that night I have never felt alone or in the dark. I pray and He hears me. I read God's word and He is there for understanding, and He is inside me for guidance. He is wonderful. The more I read, the more I feel. The more I feel, the closer I get to knowing Him. Jesus is opening my heart more and more each day. Now when I pass by a mirror, I see a woman with the Lord in her heart and spirit in her eyes.
It is through Jesus I found complete and total freedom!
Thank you and God bless you for taking the time to read my testimony. I pray that it has helped encourage you in some way. If you would like to talk with me about anything I've shared, please don't hesitate to contact me.