Tuesday, December 31, 2019
(Publish date above shows 12/31/19. This is to keep this blog at the top. Other blogs, in current date order, to come below)
This entry may be lengthy, but I feel it is necessary to give a history of what God has done in my life for, it all leads up to what has happened in the last seven years, and lays a foundation for what God is doing now. Though it may be long, it is still a very condensed version of what God has done. I will basically be hitting the highlights.
Before you begin reading, I would like to begin by saying that God IS my life! My goal is "Total abandonment to God; to court the Creator of this Universe as one lover courts another", that is the type of relationship I seek. As you read on, you will see why...
I was born in Miami, Florida on November 26th, 1960. The first week of February of 1961 I was diagnosed with a diarrhea, that in infants at that time was almost always fatal. The doctors told my parents that I would probably only live a few more days. They suggested that my parents take me to Jackson Memorial Hospital (this was the University of Miami's Teaching Hospital) and perhaps they might be able to do something.
My mother knew that Oral Roberts was holding a tent meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida. West Palm is about 60 miles North of Miami. Mom said that the faith within her told her that if she would take her baby up to the Oral Roberts meeting in West Palm, that God would heal him.
So, my mother and father set off for West Palm. I had an aunt (Ida Drawdy) that lived there. They went to her house and rested a while. Mom said Aunt Ida knew how to get around West Palm and she also wanted to go. So, off they went.
Mom said that I had been fussy and crying in the days leading up to the West Palm visit. However, she said that when they walked into the tent, I quit crying and even went to sleep. She said up to that point in the day (early evening) I had 31 runny, mucous type, bowel movements.
When the time came, they went forward in the healing line and Oral Roberts laid hands on me and prayed. My parents turned and started to walk back down the aisle when Oral spoke to my mother and said "Little Mama, come back here for a moment."
He then said "God has healed your baby. Train him up in the way he should go, because he will have a ministry in his later years which will lead people to Christ."
When my parents were heading back to Miami, they stopped at a drive in restaurant just South of West Palm called the Dog n' Suds. Mom said it was similar to what we know today as Sonic. Their specialty was hot dogs, hamburgers and root beer in cold frosty mugs. They had stopped to get a cup of coffee and a hot dog.
While at the drive in, Mom noticed that all of my color had come back into my body (I had been a gray color) and that I had even put on weight. Mom said the gown I was wearing looked big on me because I was so thin. She said my arms and stomach now filled out the gown. Further more, I had my first bowel movement since being prayed for and it was normal.
There is a humorous side to this story. When my parents got me back home, I had an aunt who wanted to call the police! She thought my parents had brought home another child. Mom said the only reason she didn't was because Mom reminded her that her mother had also been miraculously healed by the power of prayer. Another reason is that I had a very distinct strawberry birthmark under my left arm and it was still there. If that had disappeared with the healing, no telling what would have happened. LOL!
Fast forward to 1974... It all started at Ridgeview Baptist Church in Gainesville Florida...
In June of 1974 my mother, three brothers, and I (I was 13) moved from Miami up to Gainesville, Florida. My father had left our family several years earlier. We initially moved into a mobile home on the outskirts of Gainesville, but later moved to an apartment in the central part of Gainesville. This is where my life begins to change.
This apartment complex was on the edge of an older residential neighborhood. About six blocks from this complex, in the central part of the neighborhood, was a church called Ridgeview Baptist Church. This church had a bus ministry consisting of six buses that went to different parts of Gainesville. Each bus was painted a bright color which represented a fruit. Each bus also had the name of its driver stenciled on the side. The bus assigned to our area was the yellow one which was called Anna's Banana, driven by a wonderful woman named Anna!
On Saturday, April 5th, 1975, a man named Jim Bullock and his teenage son came to the complex with the bus, and went door to door inviting people to the church. When came to the apartment where I lived, I was home alone. My mother had gone grocery shopping and she had taken my three brothers with her.
Mr. Bullock talked to me about the Lord and my need of a Savior. He went through scriptures in the Bible, beginning with John 3:16 and then going through the salvation scriptures in Romans, commonly referred to as the Roman Road to Salvation. At around 2:00 pm I bowed my head with him and asked Christ into my life. Just after my profession of faith, my mother and brother returned from shopping. My mother was elated!
The next morning, Sunday, April 6th, I went to Ridgeview Baptist and made my profession of faith. The following Sunday, April 13th, I was baptized and given a New Testament. Afterward I remember thinking that I really didn't feel any different. Of course we don't go by feelings, but I didn't know about that at the time. However, the Lord had something very special in store for me that afternoon.
At around 2:00 pm on the day of my baptism I was riding my bicycle back to the church. This church sits on a corner and I was coming up from the back on the road that was beside the church. As I was approaching the church I encountered what I know now to be the presence of God. It all happened so fast that I can't recall whether it descended upon me or I rode into it! All I know is that I stopped my bike and began to cry and just sob! This presence was unlike anything I had ever felt. I remember looking up into a sunny blue cloudless sky and remembering how clean I felt. I also had this very light feeling, like I was going to float away. I felt free! It was God saying to me "I've sealed the deal, you're mine now." To this day I can go to that spot in the road where it happened.
Though I met Christ in a Baptist church, my family has Assembly of God background. In the years that followed I went with my family to the First Assembly of God (now Greenhouse Church) in Gainesville. I later attended Faith Christian Fellowship in High Springs (now called Impact Family Church) and then spent eight years with Maranatha Campus Ministries, until it's closure in 1990. Maranatha was a campus ministry located at the University of Florida. Gainesville was it's home base. Maranatha had campus ministries in 80 + college locations around the United States and world.
Each one of these churches had direct influence on where I am today with the Lord. For those of you who may know me, you must be wondering how someone saved a Baptist and grew up in Pentecostal/Charismatic churches ended up becoming an evangelist in the Roman Catholic Church? All I can say is that God surely does have a sense of humor. I will share that journey in a future blog.
Though God has been there with me all along, I can look back and see His hand of protection as there are two incidents worth sharing that show His mercy, power and grace upon me.
In August of 1980 I was a passenger in a Toyota Corolla. A friend of mine was driving at a high rate of speed. We were going around the top side of a curve when he ran off the road just a little. He over corrected which sent the car across the road. We hit a culvert and according to witnesses behind us, the car went end over end three times, pivoted, and rolled three times. The car ended upside down in a cornfield. Neither one of us was wearing seat belts.
As we were in this car upside down, we hear the rustling of the corn as someone was approaching the car. Two nuns, in habit, looked in and said "Are you boys alright?"
We said we thought so and they walked away. Well, both of us walked away from that accident without so much as a bruise or scratch! Neither did we have soreness of any kind the next day. As we were standing beside the car, my friend Jeff asked someone where the nuns went. The person said "What nuns?" Jeff said the two that asked us if we were ok. Two of the people had been right behind us. They both said that they did not see any nuns. I am convinced to this day that those nuns were Angels. Now, I was not Catholic at the time, knew nothing about the Catholic Church and had never seen a nun in habit. This was years after Vatican II and nuns in the South no longer wore habits. So why did God send Angels dressed as nuns? Only He knows.
The second incident was in June of 1987. A group of us from Maranatha had gone to Jacksonville Beach for the day. I got caught in an undertow and was taken way out on the ocean. I mean so far out that the people on shore looked like ants! To complicate matters, the wind that day was blowing off shore so no one would hear me call for help.
I tried to get out from the undertow but could not. I began to choke and felt panic setting in. At that moment I remembered my grandmother saying that if I ever got into trouble to call out for Jesus and he would help me. I cried out "Jesus help me!" and believe it or not, at that moment my feet hit solid ground and I walked all the way back to shoreI Some may scoff and say that it was a coincidence, but I know better. I know how deep that area was.
Life from this time up until 2011 was pretty mundane. I had a career in hotel management and I threw myself into it. My Christian life was what I would call nominal. I had my ups and downs, good and bad. The bottom line, which I can only see now as I look back, is that I had never given God full control of my life. I guess I could say that I was trying to live for God the best I knew how with trying to keep one foot in the world. This resulted in a life without total freedom.
There is much that did happen that I don't have room or time to go into in this blog. One incident I will share in a future blog will be about the death of my 13 year old brother during Thanksgiving of 1980, and the phenomena surrounding it. I want to progress to what happened in 2011, which would change my life so radically that it led me into a relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that I never thought possible on this earth. So now we move on to 2009...the year God began to set things in motion for 2011.
In 2009 things in my life fell apart and I mean big time. Pressure on my job (a job that I had had for many years) became unbearable due to the owner's financial failure. I was to find out about that time that I had severe depression and anxiety. Apparently I had it for years but it had never been diagnosed. I then understood why I had never fully been able to get my life together and then understood the blackness, despair and hopelessness I often felt.
It all came to a head on April 4th, 2009. That morning at work I had a total meltdown emotionally and headed to my doctor. He told me I was a candidate for a major stroke or heart attack and was surprised that I had not had one yet. In addition, the depression compounded the situation. He told me that I needed to right then get away from the job I was in. I had previously tried to talk to the owner of the hotel about my health and the pressure, but he basically told me to just deal with it. This was not typical for him, but he was under an enormous amount of financial pressure at the time.
That evening I talked the matter over with my family and friends in Cordele, Georgia. Up until just recently before these events I had been working between the Gainesville, Florida hotel and the Tifton and Cordele, Georgia hotels. It was decided that evening that I would do as the doctor said. So, on April 6th, 2009, I packed a suitcase, left my keys at the hotel along with an immediate resignation letter and walked away from it all. I headed for Cordele while my family packed up my house and put all my furniture in storage.
I am eternally grateful for my friends in Cordele. They took me under their wing and got me through the first few weeks. I did nothing but basically rest and sleep. I then worked with one of my close friends in his business. It felt awesome to be out from under the stress and start living a somewhat normal life. I got hooked in with my current church, St. Theresa's Catholic Church, and settled in.
It is interesting how God moved. I mentioned above that I would share in another blog on how I ended up in the Catholic Church, but one note is worth mentioning now. I went to the doctor on April 4th and had the crash and burn. I left for Cordele on the 6th but had to be back in Gainesville on the 11th to be brought into the Catholic Church (at Queen of Peace Catholic Church) after having gone through eight months of RCIA classes. God did have a plan here but more on that later. Life did settle down in Cordele but I still had to deal with the depression and anxiety.
Life may have settled down but the depression continued to get worse. It seemed like each day another layer of darkeness would descend upon me and usher in a deep depression and anxiety. Twilight was the worst. There was just something about it that accentuated the depression. I often found myself breaking down and just sobbing and crying for no reason at all. So dark was the darkness that I felt in my soul.
Many people were praying for me. For those of you who have dealt with severe depression, you know what I mean. The darkness that surrounds you, the feeling of hopelessness and loneliness. It can become unbearable, it's like steel talons digging into your heart. Honestly, I was at the point of giving up for I was tired of the fight. AND THEN IT HAPPENED!
There was nothing special about December 2, 2011. I remember it as being a normal evening. I remember being in my room at my desk. All of a sudden I felt like someone took a huge heavy coat off of me! I felt so light and was immediately flooded with the presence of God. It was that same presence that I had encountered on the road after my baptism that Sunday afternoon in April of 1975. I remember the time of my deliverance that evening as being 7:32 pm as I looked at the clock as it happened!
The depression was GONE! Christ had flooded my spirit and soul with Himself, driving the darkness, fear, anxiety and despair away. He enveloped me with His presence. I felt light and free. I felt as if though I was going to float off. I felt this exuberant joy! It was an instantaneous healing and deliverance and it has lasted. I have no doubt of this because of this writing it has been almost seven years since that evening.
Since then I have encountered several situations that rivaled anything prior to my healing and deliverance, the worst I believe was the amputation of two toes and part of my left foot in August of 2107 due to an infection from a piece of metal I stepped on. I've never had even the slightest twinge of depression nor has it even appeared on the horizon. I refer to it as a healing and deliverance because He not only delivered me from the depression, He filled the gaping wounds in my spirit and soul with Himself, healing all of them. He didn't just patch me up, He restored me to like new! THAT IS THE POWER OF THE CROSS!
I began to see His creation and beauty around me in a new light. I began to see the magnificent detail in nature, plants, the ocean, the sky and the the mountains! It all pointed to a great and glorious God who knows beauty. The Bible says that earth is a shadow of heaven. Boy, has He prepared something for us that we cannot comprehend! The Bible says as much in I Corinthians 2:9 - "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor entered into the hearts of man the things God has prepared for those who love Him!" Our God is an awesome God!
I would like to conclude my testimony with what has happened in the almost seven years since. The next couple of paragraphs are the most important of this testimony and why I am just now sharing it. It will show where the Lord is taking me now. For so many years I knew that our Lord had something for me to do here on this earth, but I was never quite sure what that might be. It took just over 50 years for that question to be answered, but He has now made it very clear.
In the summer of 1984 I began to reflect on my life and trying to figure out what God was planning on doing with it. I had always known growing up that I felt different. I felt like I just did not fit in anywhere, but not in a bad way. I recognized that God had His hand on me, even then. I can look back now and see that my Christian life was weak. I was just never able to put my full trust in God. That summer I asked the Lord three questions and asked Him if He could answer them before my birthday, which was November 26th. I never told anyone about those questions because I wanted to know that when the answers came, they would be directly from God. The devil would not be able to put doubt in my mind by saying someone must have told someone and so forth.
At that time I was attending Faith Christian Fellowship (now Impact Family Church) in High Springs, Florida. On the evening of November 24th (two days before my birthday) in the evening service, Pastor Edwin Anderson stopped in the middle of his sermon and asked me to stand up. Pastor Anderson said that I had asked God questions and here were the answers. All three of the questions were answered exactly! I still have a printed copy of that prophecy hanging on the wall above my desk.
I have often wondered why it took 30 years for that prophecy to begin to come to pass. Well, it was me. I just never seemed to be able to get into that deep intimate relationship with the Lord, and had many false starts. I now see that the depression (undiagnosed at the time, I was told that I probably had it since childhood) very likely played a large role in this. I'm just glad the favorite number of 40 in the Bible didn't apply here!
This may be hard to believe, but God is redeeming the time in an awesome way. I wish I had had this experience earlier in life, but I can see that it has been used as a training ground for the last five years. Also, God already knew all of this back in 1961 when He prophesied through Oral Roberts. See paragraph six above. Consequently, I have never had guilt feelings about the time frame.
When Christ enveloped on that evening of December 2, 2011, with His powerful presence, IT HAS NEVER LEFT! To this day I am constantly aware of His presence with me. Since that night I feel like I am wrapped in this warm cocoon of indescriable love. It is a powerful, indescrible, peace. For the first couple of years I had to learn how to walk in this new era of my life in Christ. The late Kathryn Kuhlman often spoke about grieving the Holy Spirit. I now know what she meant. I want nothing to get in my way that would cause the Holy Spirit to draw back.
I have become very conscious of doing anything that would grieve the Holy Spirit. Have I done so? Yes, many times on this road of learning. However, when He makes me aware that I have done something I shouldn't have, I ask the Father for His forgiveness through the Blood of Christ and get back up! Each time I get back up, I am made stronger than before. Consequently, you become more attuned to the Holy Spirit and the slip ups become less and less.
Some often look at me strange when I say this, but my relationship with God has become a very deep & intimate love affair. This closeness had given me the desire for total abandonment to God. I can truly say that I want, nor need, anything else. I'm trying to describe this relationship the best I can, but there are just no sufficient words in our human vocabulary to describe what has happened to me and this nearness to the Father.
The next paragraphs will be the most important of this testimony, for they are the reason I have been prompted to tell my story.
The first couple of years after my deliverance and healing, I spent time developing my relationship with God. He began to show me the importance of each person on this earth as individuals. He showed me the intimate relationship He desires with each one of us, and how much He cares for each one of us as an individual. That is why Christ ascended and the Holy Spirit came, so that He could be with, and spend time with, each one of here on this earth. He brought scriptures to mind that bear this out. Psalm 139:13 - "he knew us before we were born." Psalm 56:8 - "He bottles our tears." Luke 12:7 and Matthew 10:30 - "He knows the number of hairs on our head."
My mother likes that one for she says that you realize that as much hair that grows in and falls out each day, His number is always right on count!
However, my foundational scripture for this deep love affair is Psalms 139:17 & 18 (Living Bible) - "How precious is it Lord to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can't even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!"
In 2013 I heard of a pastor who said "God Is Crazy Nuts In Love With You!" A light bulb went on. I mean it was a bright flooding light that illuminated my soul. He gave me a glimpse of how deep and intimately He loves each one of us! It is indeed a love affair like no other. Yes, He loves us, His church, but He also loves each one of us as if we were the only person on earth. Think about that! The creator of this Universe know all about you. He wants to take you up in His arms, hold you close, and just love on you! He sent His Son to die upon a cross, and who shed His Blood, so that YOU would be able to eternally live with Him!
As I "saw" this, the Lord showed me how this applied to me as an individual. He said "Remember the girl you used to date in high school? How you thought about her constantly and how you could not wait to see her? How she totally captured you? Well, that is the way I think about you! (Psalm 139: 17 & 18 confirm this) He said "I am interested in the things you like to do! You like to dig worms? Then I like to dig worms! I kid you not, that is the illustration He used with me.
It was surprising to find that I could not find much about the type of intimacy with God I have experienced. There are teachings, sermons and books on intimacy with God, but most of them seem to show how we are to reach out and develop a relationship with Him. That is great, and needed, but He has shown me how He so much desires to have an intimate relationship with us. In other words, He reaches out to us just as much as we are reaching for Him.
The word intimate needs to be clarified. Most think of this word as a sexual term but that is not what this is about. I am talking about a spiritual oneness that is not based on a physical sense. The type of intimacy I have with the Father is so deep that I just don't know how to put it into words. I do feel an awesome oneness with Him now, but it's just something I am at a loss of words to describe. He wants every one of us to crawl up into His lap and let Him hold us oh so close to Him.
I have shared my testimony because everyone needs to know that no matter the circumstances, there is someone who loves and cares for you deeply.
For those of you who have lost your way, don't understand why you are in the place you are in, don't think anyone cares. I am here to tell you that there IS someone who love you intimately and is reaching out to you to step into your life and take the wheel. That person is Jesus Christ. He is reaching out to you, reach up to Him. He will make the difference when the pieces don't fit! I am living proof of that, and what He has done for me, He will do for you.
For those who experience depression and the darkness, loneliness and anxiety that comes with it. For those who dread to see the night time come, know that Christ is already extending His hand to you. You may not even know what to say. Just simply ask Him to help and just as He did with me on that day I was drowning, He will reach down and put your feet on solid ground! He wants you to know "He's gotcha!"
For those of you who feel that your heart has condemned you, just remember that it says in I John 3:20 that God is greater than our heart and knows all things! He just wants to love on you and hold you close. He would say to you "I gotcha!"
No matter what you have done, I want you to know that Jesus Christ came not to condemn the world, but to save it. Jesus can heal your past if you will just accept His mercy....you really can be free from sin and find lasting peace. This is able to happen because when Jesus Christ shed His Blood and died on the cross (and it would not change the fact if you had been the only person on earth) He paid for all your sins.
I'm just a very simple and ordinary person. I so want for everyone to experience what has happened to me. I want everyone on this earth to know that it IS possible to experience God in a way you never thought possible. To live in His presence all the time. I can now relate to Psalm 27:4 (Living Bible) "The one thing I want from God, the one thing I seek the most of all, is the privilege of meditation in His temple, LIVING IN HIS PRESENCE EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE, delighting in His incomparable perfections and glory." I have come to experience Him in such a way that there are no words in my vocabulary to fully describe what it is like to live in His enveloping presence around the clock.
If you're in a circumstance in which you blame God, know that He is not the author of evil. This is what the devil would like you to believe. There are some thing we don't know or understand. You just have to know that He is in control and will walk with you in a dark valley. In the end it will all become clear. I can speak from experience on that one.
IT IS POSSIBLE HERE ON EARTH TO WALK IN HIS POWERFUL, ALL CONSUMING, PRESENCE AS A LIFESTYLE! It has happened to me and if it can happen to me, it IS possible for anyone. I am just at a total loss for words on what this is like! The words great, grand, awesome, magnificent, majestic, WOW and so forth, don't even come close as a description.
One last thing and that is putting in perspective on how long eternity is.
I asked my grandmother once (I was 8) how long was eternity. She said a long, long, long time. So I asked how long is a long, long, long time? She was standing at the sink washing dishes and I remember that she stopped while she was drying a plate and stared out the window. She said, let me put it in a way you might understand better. She said if a dove came down from heaven just once a year and took one drop of water and one grain of sand, when that dove had carried this entire earth away, eternity will have just begun! That is a long long long time! Don't chance leaving this earth without having accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior. When your transition into eternity begins, there will be no time for do overs! No chance to choose a different ending.
But good news! If you are reading this, there is still time to accept Christ as your Savior. This will edit your life's story and create the ideal ending! Eternity with Him!
I use to say that I had a lot of questions for God. Those don't matter now for when I stand before Him and look upon His face, all the questions will be answered.
I can't say it enough. The Creator of this Universe, God our Father, and everything in it has a personal interest in YOU! He is greater, grander, more glorious than anything we could ever imagine! No words and describe what it is like to live in His presence! I want to live on this earth until I have done what He put me here to do, but I can't wait for that day when I stand before the throne and crawl up into His lap! Oh what a day that will be!
As I said at the beginning, this testimony is very condensed. If I where to share all that He has done for me, and shared with me, you would be reading for days! I will be eternally grateful for what He has done for me. He did raise me up and fill me with wonder and awe! I feel like I have gotten just a tiny speck of a glimpse of eternity.
I'll just end by saying that this is my story, this is my song. Pentecost has come to me! To God be the Glory! Praise Him!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions, or if I can pray for you or someone you know. God can give you that incredible, indescrible peace and joy...no matter where you've been! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
To visit the Radically Saved Website, click the following link: radicallysavedministries.com
NOTE: The testimony above has an addition which I will be sharing in an upcoming blog but here is a highlight...
On July 4th 2017 I came within three hours from dying from a blood infection from a badly infected left foot. I ended up having the two small toes on my left foot, and part of my left foot amputated. As per incidents in the above testimony I will share how in the following four months God once again brought me through the dark night and how my condition defied the odds of the medical community.