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Introductions and Testimonies Please tell everybody something about yourself. Tell us a little. Tell us a lot. Its up to you!

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Old 07-11-2008, 03:36 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
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Default Ohio's testimony from the LSM Archives

Not sure who's interested ... but I wrote this testimony years ago for the LSM site (still there too) ... here it is unabridged ... my how things have changed!

My Testimony of Salvation: The Forgiveness of Sins

I was born into a large Catholic family of nine children. Our parents did their best to raise all to become fine young Catholic men and women. I personally believed whatever I was told as a young child. Concerning my salvation and my eternal destiny, I believed whatever I was taught by the nuns in school. Since I was Catholic, baptized as a baby, confirmed by the bishop, educated in catholic schools, regularly went to Mass, received the sacraments, sang in the choir, served as an alter boy, etc., then if I died, for sure, I would go to heaven!

Just don't die with a mortal sin in your soul! That one statement haunted me as it must every sincere Catholic. Therefore, I was instructed to go to confession on a weekly basis, just to make sure that my soul was purged of all mortal sins. A million venial sins were pretty bad, but I could still get into heaven. But if I should die before I made it to confession, and just one mortal sin was on my soul, then I would go to hell!

For the most part, I had bought into the whole program, except I had one little problem. About the time I started high school, I no longer could bring myself to enter that dark confessional and bare my soul to the priest! I had never told him the truth anyway. I thought the problem was mine. I was just too self-conscious. Even when I started confession at age seven, I struggled with it. But since all good Catholic school children were weekly herded into the church confessional, what was I to do? I was next in line! If I ran now everyone would know! So, to save my face, and to save my neck, I just made up my own little story. As long as the priest bought into it, gave me some penance, and started waving his hands in prayer, I was home free!

This incident highlights the dilemma I faced throughout my twelve years of Catholic education. I was taught to confess my sins to the priest, and that only he had the power to absolve my sins. Yet, I never told him the truth, and he still forgave my sins. I was never taught to confess my sins directly to God, yet deep down I was aware that He knew all my sins! All my lies in the confessional did nothing for me, yet I had no idea what was the right thing to do. So I lived in contradiction, carrying around my guilt and the weight of all my sins.

By the time I was in college, I had long become an “absentee” Catholic. Mass was far too boring to hold my interest. I basically lived a godless life. I was far more interested in partying with my friends. That was something I was good at. That is, until I met my friend Tony at a party. We soon became great friends. I found out that we worked together at the same company and were scheduled next semester for the same night school class at the university. He also had just received Jesus Christ as his Savior. Being also raised a “Cat'lic”, Tony's new excitement about Jesus became very attractive to me. He could talk for hours about the Bible like I never heard before! And we didn't need to go to church, we could talk about the Lord anywhere! For the first time in my life I seemed to be interested in God, because I finally met someone who was himself excited about God.

Tony gave me a New Testament to read in modern English. I would work overtime, go to school all night, then go home to read my new Bible. I still can't understand why I would do such a thing! The second night something wonderful happened to me. It was unspeakable joy! This same Jesus Christ had come to live in me too. I had tears of joy! I was all alone reading in bed, but now I was not alone! My Bible knowledge was minimal, but I knew for sure that Jesus Christ was in my heart, that all my sins were forgiven, and that I would never go to hell! I felt as light as air and so clean within. What an inner freedom from guilt, now for the first time in my life. The Lord Himself had visited me secretly while I was all alone reading His Word.

That one night changed my life, and gave me new life. I fell in love with Jesus and the Bible. Every night I would go home and read more. That's all I wanted to do. And I also began to tell others. They just could not understand what happened to me. They could only marvel at my joy and how my life had changed for the better. I was now a Christian and I told my family and friends. My father would scratch his head and say, “What do you mean you're now a Christian, we raised you this way.” But I can honestly say that in all my years in Catholic schools, I never once heard of someone being born again (Gospel of John chapter 3), born of God's Spirit, as I had been that one night in my bedroom. Yes, I did hear about Jesus from the Bible, but I was also taught many teachings and traditions that were not from the Bible.

For months I looked for other Christians whose joy and excitement matched my own. I really wasn't looking that hard, nor did I know what I was looking for. I just could never forget that one night in my bedroom, when the Lord became so real to me. Then one day Tony introduced me to some Christians he had met on the campus. After talking a few minutes, I realized that their love and zeal for the Lord far surpassed my own. When one Christian brother told me, “We're just normal Christian”, the Lord within convicted me that many things in my own Christian walk were not “normal” to the Lord. Yet I found their testimony and love for the Lord very attractive.

I asked them the name of their church. When the brother answered, “The church in Cleveland, just like `the church in Jerusalem' in the book of Acts,” I knew that these brothers were somewhat radical to follow the Bible literally. I liked that because I was learning how the traditions of men cheated us from the reality of Christ. My first visit was a gospel meeting. I never saw a church so brightly lit inside. I had thought maybe God liked dark churches, since they all seemed that way. So many brothers and sisters were standing to shout praises to the Lord. It was inspiring! Tony had told me that, “these brothers have something we don't” Well, I wanted what they had. What they had was the Life-giving Spirit of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:45)! The brother sitting next to me said, “Let's stand and release our spirit.” I didn't know then that I even had a human spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). But when I stood to praise and thank the Lord in a few short phrases, His Spirit filled me. I was filled like a hot air balloon! The Lord tasted so good! (1 Peter 2:3) That taste of Christ was identical to the night I was saved. I felt like I was home with my family!

Before that first meeting, I was already a Christian with Christ living inside of me. I would tell people I was a “ blood-washed, born again Christian”; but I was alone. I was a lonely Christian. Now, however, I was with believers who could help me to know the Bible, grow in the Lord, and be filled in the Spirit. How merciful the Lord was to me! It was not I who first loved Him, but He who first loved me (1 John 4:19)! I had to tell everyone about the Lord and the local church!
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
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Old 07-13-2008, 11:54 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 281

Dear brother Ohio,

I really enjoyed reading your testimony. Like you, I really have to thank Him and praise Him for the "Tony" that he brought into my life. And how I have to thank Him and praise Him for His secret visits to us when we spend time alone with Him in His Holy Word!

The very last sentence of your testimony really stood out to me: "I had to tell everyone about the Lord and the local church!" Notice the very healthy order in that statment: First and foremost is the Lord, then comes the "local church". Subtly, over the decades, this order seems to have been completely reversed. In my own experience, I ended up trying to gain people by showing them that we were the only ones "on the ground" while they were "off the ground", and that they were so poor and pitiful, while we had "all the riches". I am not sure where our Lord was in all of that. I truly have to repent to all those who were stumbled by such an attitude in me. No matter how glorious any experience in the Body may be, no matter how rich a ministry that ministers to the Body may be, these things are still not the Head. He, and He alone, must always have the place which our heavenly Father chose for Him in eternity past: "Head over all things"! When anything else besides Him takes over the first place in our lives, we lose a lot, even if that thing appears to be "of Him".

May He be merciful and grant us fresh experiences of being gathered into His Name, completely submitted and yielded to Him.
"The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better."
Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality

Last edited by kisstheson; 07-13-2008 at 12:15 PM.
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