The testimony about how I found freedom in Christ started long before I really knew…
What Led Me To The Rescue Mission?
I could probably tell you what led me to have to live at the rescue mission in one word. But I won’t.
So if you want to know you will have to keep reading for a few moments to find out.
Where Should I Start?
I guess the best place to start is in the year 2002 because that’s when I first moved to the city of Jacksonville, Fl.
It was a time after my second failed marriage and I honestly felt like the city of Atlanta, Ga was not big enough for my ex-wife and myself.
Hey, that’s another story in and of itself though… Maybe I will expound on it in another story.
For now, I will stick to what led me to live in the rescue mission. And oh, by the way, I ended up living there two times.
More on that also later…
So, in 2002 I moved to Jacksonville, Florida and after a couple of months of being here, I really sensed that this is where I should be.
Things began to go really great for me… I had a decent job in the construction industry and I was also able to move out of my brother’s place and get my own apartment.
The best part is that I had a small church community that I was involved with that really helped me a lot.
The Cares of this Life will always creep in.
A very good friend of mine said to me once that if you turn away from following God it’s usually because there is something in the gospel that you do not believe.
As I look back over time I have found that to be a true statement.
The Lord Jesus told us about the parable of the sower… Which I might add is one of my favorite parables in the Bible.
I see this parable as Jesus pointing out to us four different stages of Christianity. And of course, that’s not all it teaches…
But I say that because I am familiar with all four aspects of the parable.
And also to be more specific the part where the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches creeps in and cause us to be unfruitful in the things of God.
This has happened to me on more than one occasion as a Christian.
This stage of our walk can cause us to be stuck finding ourselves in a continuous cycle as Jonathan McReynolds would say.
That’s just where I found myself in a continuous cycle of going in and out of fellowship with the Lord.
I’m reminded here of the verse we find in the Proverbs that tells us that a just man will fall seven times but he will rise again.
Will Power Runs Out
It happens to everyone that’s trying to do life the wrong way.
Yeah, I found out that will power runs out… And it’s only the love of God that will keep you where you need to be.
If you know anything about my testimony… you know that I was saved at the age of 15…but you wouldn’t have known it at various times in my life.
That’s a part of what led me to live on the streets before God gave me the mind to go down to the rescue mission.
Before I made it to the mission I found myself in a place that I would not have imagined.
I mean I slept in abandoned houses…on park benches…in public restrooms in the park and in a dugout on little league baseball fields.
This, my friend, is not the kind of life that God our Father wants for us… But he will allow us to go through some suffering to get us to look up.
You only look up and ask for help when you have reached the end of your rope.
And for the child of God, that’s when he will throw us a lifeline.
The Life Line Promise.
God has made a promise that he will never leave us or forsake us… Even though it may feel like he has. God is not like a man that he would not keep his word.
Speaking of lifelines that’s where I ended up.
You see years ago at the mission that I lived in they had a program there called the LifeLine Program.
And believe me, it really was for me and for a lot of other folks as well.
However, I must admit that when I first got there I still had my own agenda running through my mind.
But thanks to God and his wisdom I was able to surrender that agenda over to Him.
At least for a while…
As I said earlier I found myself going in and out of fellowship with the Lord on several occasions in my life.
Maybe you have as well. if you have please keep reading and you will find out how God delivered me once and for all from the bondage of self and sin.
First Cigars then Back to Cigarettes.
After finishing the programs at the mission in 2004-2005 things seemed to be going pretty well for me… At first anyway.
But there was some junk in my trunk that I still hadn’t gotten rid of. The Bible calls it fleshly living or living after the flesh.
In other words, God still had some convincing to do in my heart.
Sometimes deliverance is in an instant and sometimes it’s a long process of purging us from our flesh techniques.
But God has promised to perfect that which concerns us and in another place, the Holy Spirit speaks on this wise.
The good work that God has begun in us he will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6.
About the cigars…
It’s true a little leaven, leaven the whole lump. That means that it only takes a small infraction or sin to fill the rest of your life with bigger sins.
One cigar led me to smoke regularly again after I had stopped for 3 years.
After Cigarettes, it’s always a Drink
Many people don’t want to believe that the sin of smoking will lead to other sins.
No matter what we want to believe we are not going to make God out of a liar… We’re just not.
All I can honestly tell you is that before I started back smoking I wasn’t drinking…
So now we are getting to the root of every downfall of my life. Yes behind every ungodly and unwise decision that I have made… Alcohol was the root cause.
I’m not one of those folks that can drink socially… If there is such a thing?
No my friend with me it’s all or nothing.
I thank God for his grace that it is nothing when it comes to cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol. I can now say that I am free.
To be quite honest I drank the last beer on the corner of Liberty Street in downtown Jacksonville, FL. August 1, 2013.
And oh, the last cigarette was smoked on the 17th of the same month.
Sure the devil has tried to tempt me and convince me to pick those habits up again.
I simply tell him that I don’t smoke and I don’t drink. And that he has to go in the name of the Lord Jesus.
The Bible is true… James tells us to resist the devil and he will flee. James 4:7.
But here’s the key to that command, and it is first we must “Submit yourselves unto God.”
That seems to be the part that we have a tendency to leave out… We must not.
You see until we submit ourselves under God’s authority the devil will always have a foot hole in our lives.
The Key to Staying Out of Dugouts and Sleeping on Park Benches.
Well as I told you earlier I had to live in the rescue mission twice. The last time was just a few years ago…
What led me there that time you ask? Nothing other than riotous living drugs, alcohol, rebellion and leaning on my own understanding.
You can read about some of the things that took place before I got there in another part of my testimony here.
Yeah, it’s truly the little foxes that destroy the vine.
Here’s something else about that time though… I also went there with my own agenda as well. But God had a different plan.
I’m mighty grateful that he did… Mighty grateful.
So here’s the key to the whole Christian lifestyle– It’s none other than this… “Love”
Yep, Love. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
But there’s nothing simple about love and if you don’t believe me try living out 1st Corinthians 13 without the help of God the Holy Spirit.
But to be more specific about the Love thing… You see it’s not only the love of God that keeps you and I. Meaning his love for us.
But it’s our love for Him that has a lot to do with whether or not we are going to obey him from the heart… Which is what keeps us in proper fellowship with him.
Or are we going to obey him because we want him to do something for us?
This is the truth that I try to get everyone that I get the chance to talk with to understand.
And it’s that love is a gift that we receive from God and the only way that we receive this gift is to open our mouths and ask for it.
The Good Gifts Come From God.
I remember just as it was yesterday when I asked God why was it that I continued to go in and out of fellowship with him.
And to this day I don’t believe that I would have asked him if he had not given me the thought to ask.
The beauty about asking the right question is that you will always get the answer that you need. Read James 1:5.
God allowed me to see that if I learned how to love him the proper way and that’s with all of my heart, with all of my soul, with all of my mind and with all of my strength…
Then and only then would I learn how to love myself and others as well.
Do I have a monopoly on the love of God and do I always love my neighbor in a perfect way. No, I don’t.
But this one thing that I do is to pray and ask God to enlarge the territories of my heart that I can love in a more perfect way day by day.
This is my earnest prayer. Not only for myself but for you as well.
So when all is said and done the thing that’s going to keep us going in the right direction is love.
Faith works by love and it will most likely keep you out of the mission.
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