I’ve been asked to give my testimony, and that’s always something of a fearful thing because with our testimonies we’re prone at times to become self-centered and self-absorbed and to…even present ourselves in such a way as to appear a victim who was then rescued by Christ rather than a culprit that was rescued by Christ. I have found out from looking at men, from studying the Scriptures and from looking in the mirror of my own life that men love to speak about themselves. So we must always really be careful with regard to our testimonies.
I was raised on a ranch, a farm. We raised cattle and Quarter Horses so I was kinda raised as something of a farm boy and a cowboy. My father was an unbeliever. My mother was a believer but I have a long heritage of people in my family who served the Lord.
My mother was Croatian and my grandmother was a Croatian Christian and because of her faith suffered greatly. If you are Croatian, you are Catholic. Extremely Catholic. And my grandmother was converted so in leaving Catholicism it was a sense of also being a traitor to Croatian culture. But what made matters worse is the only Evangelical church that existed at the time was Serbian and the Croats and the Serbs have a great war against one another over the centuries and so for her to become a part of that made it even worse. But through her life my mother was converted at the age of 12 as she saw how her mother suffered for Christ.
My grandfather and grandmother on my father’s side were some of the first Baptist missionaries to the country of Brazil.
Before I was born I was preceded by a brother, my brother, Doug. And my father literally, as he wrote in one of his letters, worshiped the ground that my brother walked on. A few years ago I discovered a correspondence from my father and my grandfather. It was actually a letter from my grandfather and he said this: “Bob”–that was my dad’s name–”I greatly fear for you and I fear for your boy “for I’ve heard you say that you worship the ground that boy walks on. Our great God will not tolerate idols in the life of any man.” My brother ran into the street one day and was run over by a car and he was killed. And there is a real sense in which part of my dad died then. He was everything for my father. And I grew up kinda in the shadow of that. And it was very difficult to be honest with you. It was extremely difficult. So there on the farm, the ranch, my father was an unbeliever, but there was one gift that he really gave me, he taught me how to work hard. As a matter of fact when I was 12 years old I was taken to the hospital and I remember the doctor chewing out my father saying: “You are going to kill that boy. I’ve never seen a boy in this kind of condition, “his back and everything else. You’ve got to stop working him so hard.” But you know in a sense it was really really hard. But in a sense it was one of the greatest gifts. We went to not a very good preschool or high school, and I wasn’t really a student who applied himself at all. But I remember when I went to college, my first year, first class, English class, they asked me to write a paragraph. That was the first assignment. I flunked it. I didn’t know how to write a paragraph. But at the end of the semester I had an A in the class. Why? Because the one thing my father had given me was work. You just work until you do it. That’s all there is to it. And that’s a good lesson also for the parents here today, especially those who homeschool. I know we want to give our children Latin and calculus and all these different things but the most important thing you can give your child is Christ…and character. Give them character and they can accomplish anything. They can start at the bottom of the class but they’ll go forward if they’re taught to work.
My father was a person who really pushed me. I was not a very good athlete but I was an athlete and if I scored 20 points in a game it was: “You could have scored 30.” If I made a certain score in something “You could have done better and this is how you could have done it.” And it was always that, the glass always seemed to be half empty. It was really, really difficult. He was a very angry man, very powerful man, very strong man. He could be frightening. I saw my dad one time in a situation, six men approached him, got in an argument with him, and my father looked at all six of them and he went like this, he said: “You know me, I’ll whip all six of you, at one time, I’ll do it right here. You know I can do it.” And they backed down. He was really something. But he was just always angry, always unfulfilled. No matter what happened it just wasn’t good enough. You see, when you don’t have Christ in your life that’s just the way it is. Nothing will ever satisfy a man except Christ.
Our relationship was very, very difficult. I lived in a great deal of fear. And then, when I was about 16 years old it seemed like things started to change. My father and I began to have a really…a better relationship. As a boy I was always really small,”the runt of the litter.” I know I didn’t live up to my older brother. But when I turned 16 it seemed like everything changed. I think I grew a foot that year, put on some weight and I was more something that my father could be proud of. So things were going well. And one day we were working on the ranch. I just turned 17 and we were running wire. Now, here in Rhode Island you may not know what that is, but you take a big roll of barbed wire, you run a steel pole through it, one man gets on one side and the other gets on the other and you’re running wire to build a fence for horses or cattle. And we’re talking as we’re walking along, we’re even laughing, we’re having a good time, and all of a sudden he screamed. And when he screamed I caught him and we both fell to the ground and when I rolled him over he was dead. He’d died of a massive heart attack.
Now, at that point everything in my life changed. Everything. I wasn’t a Christian but I was kind of known as, well, “a good guy”, you know, and within a matter of weeks I would come to school drunk. I ended up getting kicked off the basketball team that I was captain of. Just all sorts of things.
Now, people looked at that and they’d say: “Wow…” and they did. They looked at that and they said: “This poor kid…” No, not at all. You see, we’ve been taught to think he’s a victim of his father’s death. That’s not true. My father’s death gave my wicked flesh the opportunity to do what it has always wanted to do. There was no authority. I could just live now. I was getting bigger. I was getting stronger. No one tell me what to do. And so I wasn’t a victim, I was a culprit. And although I appeared to be a good boy I wasn’t a good boy inside. It’s just I had a very strong authority figure over me. And for you children that are homeschooled, you need to realize something. It may be your mother and father’s authority and wisdom and even their relationship with Christ that’s holding your morality in check, or your immorality in check. Just because you’re homeschooled or this or that doesn’t mean that you are a godly person. You can fake it and not even know that you’re faking it. And then when that authority figure is moved out of your life you become a wild person. Well, no, you don’t really become a wild person you just start manifesting what you’ve always been secretly. So if you see that in yourself this morning–run to Christ. Run to Christ, you see.
So, I graduated from high-school, didn’t know what I was gonna do and one day I was at the courthouse, for some reason, there in town and my basketball coach or one of the teachers there at school, he looked at me and goes: “Hey, Washer! You going into the army?” I said: “I don’t know. Why?” He said: “Because that’s the only place you could go, either there or prison.” And it made me so mad. He said: “Because you can’t function in outside society.” It made me so mad that I went and called a student counselor even though I’d already graduated, a really nice lady at our school and I met with her at her home and I said I wanna go to university somewhere. So I got into a university, a good one, small one but very good. You know how people will try to glorify in some way… you know, I was a fighter, I was a drinker, I was this, I was that… I was just the most self-centered, egotistical, vain jerk of a person you’ve ever met in your life. It was just all about me. I wanted to make good grades to become a lawyer to make a lot of money. Lifted weights 3 hours a day because I wanted to be bigger and stronger than all the other guys. I did whatever I could do to be the center of attention. I just always wanted to be a superhero. Just vanity. Vanity. And the more you give yourself to that, the more ridiculous you look. Just, you know, “the emperor has no clothes”. And I just went on with that. And then, as you do that, you give yourself more and more over to delusion. And you begin to lie. I was one of the greatest liars you’ve ever met in your life. I can remember one time lying to a–I went with a friend of mine, he said: “Man, I don’t want to work tomorrow. It’s gonna be so beautiful.” I said: “No problem. Let’s go talk to our boss”. So I went in there and I made up the biggest story just right off the cuff. One of the biggest lies in the world and we walked out and my friend looked at me, my best friend, and he says: “You know, you are scary. You are scary.” And I said: “What do you mean?” He goes: “I knew you were lying and I believed you.” And I did that.
But one of the most wonderful things is God did not allow my conscience to be seared. The deeper I came into my own vanity, the more I hated myself, the darker I saw myself. And then the working of the Holy Spirit… Just everything in my life was a lie.
I transferred from the school because I decided that I was gonna be an oil and gas lawyer so I went to the University of Texas and I thought: “This is a new opportunity. I’m gonna be a different person when I go there.” Well, you know how that went. I was not a different person. It just took a matter of weeks and I was caught in the same lies and I was having to live something totally fake, just everything. And I just realized I’m trapped, I can’t change. And sometimes–and I don’t know if you’ve done this but I would get in the morning to go class and I can remember just going in, you know, it would be dark, turn on the light of the bathroom, turn on the shower and standing there in the shower and such darkness, not outside in the room, but in me it was like an absolute hopelessness. “Why–” it wasn’t a philosophical: “Why am I alive?” It was just darkness. There is no hope. There’s nothing. There’s absolutely nothing.
And because I loved myself and I wanted to be the center of everyone’s attention, I lifted weights. I lived to lift weights and I was on steroids. And I can remember one night, it was 1 in the morning, I couldn’t sleep and I had a bottle of pills in my hand and I was just looking at them and I said to myself: “I know these wouldn’t kill me if I took them all at one time but I do wish I had something that would do that–I am so miserable. ” And I kept saying over and over, I remember it was the word: “I am the most miserable human being on this planet.”
You know, outside– for some of you who may be thinking that the world is really a cool thing I took a big part in that cool stuff. I mean, I was well-known as a guy to hang around with. You know, I always laugh when I think of– I knew very beautiful people, models and this and that and I always laugh whenever I see a model on a billboard. Because I’ll tell young men: “You see that beautiful woman there?” They say: “Yeah.” I say: “I’d seen her at 4 in the morning with her head in the toilet, throwing up. I’ve seen her without her make-up.” And, you know, I’ve seen that, I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt and it’s just– unless God seares your conscience no matter how beautiful that life appears on the outside, it’s the most disgusting thing in the world on the inside. I just knew my life was miserable. But I think the worst thing about it is –I knew my life was just a fabrication, was all a lie. And I knew I was in bondage because someone could ask me a simple question and I couldn’t tell them the truth. I would just make up something because I knew I could. One of my friends said: “Man, you gonna make a great lawyer.” And I used to think to myself: “Yeah, I’ll end up in jail or suicide” you know, I knew I would’ve.
And so I was sitting there on the bed and it’s like 1:00, 1:30 in the morning and there’s a knock at the door. I’m, like: “What…that is?” So I open up the door, it was an apartment complex, university students, I open up the door and there is this guy there, about this tall, a freshman, and he’s just, like, shaking. I’m, like, looking at him and he said: “You’re probably gonna beat me up.” I looked at him and I said: “You know, you’re probably right.” And he goes: “But I gotta tell you something.” And I’m thinking, man, this guy is–something’s wrong with him, you know. He goes: “I gotta tell you something.” And I said: “OK” He goes: “I can’t take it anymore. I’m afraid of you, but I’m more afraid of God and I can’t take it anymore.” I’m, like: “OK, what?” He goes: “For two weeks God’s been telling me to come over and tell you something and I’ve been afraid to do it, but I can’t sleep and I’ve gotta tell you.” I’m, like: “This is–You’re really freaking me out.”
And I said: “OK”, just kinda funny I go:”OK, what’s God got to tell me?” This is what he said: “You are miserable and you are gonna remain miserable until you surrender you life to Jesus Christ.” And, I mean, it was like he hit me with a truck, because I thought to myself, you know, when I was thinking I’m the most miserable human I wasn’t saying that out loud. He couldn’t have heard that through the door. And so until about 4:30 in the morning we just walked around the campus and he would tell me stuff and I looked at him and I said: “Look, I know the Catholic Church “and I know the Baptist and I know they’re both on, you know, opposite sides. I know both those groups and I don’t want anything to do with any of them.” And this is what he said, he said: “That’s fine, “but I’m not talking about the Catholic and I’m not talking about Baptist. “I’m talking about the person of Jesus Christ and I’m sorry, you can’t escape from this one. What do you gonna do with Him?”
And I really began to think about it. I just thought about it and thought about it. And my mom had put an old King James Bible in my suitcase and I found it in my apartment somewhere –looking for it, had it shoved somewhere And I opened up the Bible, it was a few days later, and it said this, I opened it up to a passage, it says: “Man’s days are like grass “As flower of the field, so he flourishes” “When the wind has passed over him, he is no more, And the place acknowledges him no more.” And it made me angry because I sat there and I went: “I know this. This is part of my problem.” Because I remember my father–he was very smart, very powerful, very respected, yet when he died I remember the funeral, when people came to see that night I saw a man talking about their business, his best friends, some of them even laughing, you know, they were sincere but it was like my dad died and everybody’s gone on with their life. And I thought to myself: “That’s exactly the way it’s going to be with me. “The way it is with everybody. You’re just grass. You die.”
And so I took the Bible and I just put it back, like that, quickly and just said, basically: “Thanks God for telling me something I already knew”. But then I picked it back up again after a few minutes, and it said: “But the lovingkindness of the Lord is everlasting on those who fear Him.” And the “everlasting” is the part that just stood out to me. And so I would read some and I would listen to this guy some and I began to kind of understand something about the gospel. And then one day I’m at the undergraduate library, the University of Texas we’re running off some oil surveys because we had this team–we competed against other teams there in the university, you know, this classroom situation in which you’re these mock-up companies and you have to do all the different things from oil surveys to accounting. And so we’re running off some surveys there and one of the girls, the only girl on our team, comes up to me and she goes: “Hey, I’m having a party tomorrow night. Why don’t you come?” And I had gone through that stage of partying and everything but I had gotten to the point were I’m no longer partied I just went to a bar, you know, I mean a bar–old guys, you know, I just went to a bar, I would sit there and drink myself blind. I could go for 2 weeks without talking to a person. I just didn’t care anymore. And I don’t even know what drove me to want to get good grades all the time. I guess it was the only reason I had to be alive. So I looked at her and I said: “No, I’m not going to your party.” And she looked at me and all the guys that knew me were, kinda, looking up and, kinda, smiling and looking at me while I was talking to her. I said: “I’m not going to your party”. And she said: “Why?” And honestly before you, what I’m gonna tell you is the truth I looked at her, it wasn’t premeditated, it wasn’t anything, I just looked at her and this is what I said, I said: “I’m not going to you party because I believe in Jesus Christ and I’m going to follow Him”. When I said that, I saw her face and I saw my friends, acquaintances there in this company with me, I saw them look at me with the most shocked look on their face like, “What on Earth is he pulling now?’ And it was like– have you seen those cartoons where this light bulb just goes “click” Literally it went– I can still remember the very moment– it went… It was just… and I looked at her and she looked at me and I said: “That’s exactly what I’m gonna do. “I’m gonna walk out of this building right now and I’m going to follow Jesus Christ. I love Jesus Christ and I’m gonna follow Jesus Christ”. And I turned away from them, I gathered up my stuff and I started walking out of that library and, literally, it was like someone was carrying me. All I knew is that I was loved by God and all my sins were gone. That’s all I knew.
And that’s when I’m dealing with souls you have to be very careful– I’m gonna make a little theological statement here now, you gotta be very very careful because we are saved by repentance and by faith but at the initial stages of conversion that always does not manifest itself the same way. For example, I was a wicked, wicked person but I wasn’t sitting there at that moment thinking how wicked I was, this wasn’t a perfect Puritan demonstration of repentance, I wasn’t thinking about that. All I knew was God loved me and I was reconciled. And I couldn’t even use that word but that’s what I knew. Now, you say: “Well, there was no repentance.” Yes, there was. It started manifesting itself, I mean, everyday I would see more of how wicked I was and it would break my heart more and more.
So when you’re dealing with souls you have to be very very cautious because I’ve seen people who find very little assurance because they supposedly haven’t had that perfect Puritan, reformed conversion experience–but neither did Johnathan Edwards. But in the end what happens: repentance starts, faiths starts.
I was so happy and I went towards the library door and I opened it up and there was a girl coming in that later I found out had been praying for me for 6 months, her and several others that were in the same apartment complex with me, and when I opened the door she said: “Paul?!” And I said: “Yeah?” She goes: “What happened to you?!” I said: “What do you mean what happened to me?” She goes: “Your face. You’re just–What happened to you?” And I said: “I don’t know.” And I remember I got scared. I knew I was a different human being. I was a different man. And I just walked, ran– I would run when no one would see me and walk when people were passing me by, I had to get back and I found that guy who was in my apartment. And I said: “Mike, I’m scared!” He said: “What’s wrong?” I go: “I’m not me anymore. I’m not me.” And so he took me down to this guy who discipled him, who was the resident, you know, overseer, who was a Christian, Mike Martin, big Texan. And so I knock on the door and Mike goes: “What’s up?” Mikes said: “Tell him what’s up” They were both named Mike. And I said to him: “I don’t know. I believe in Jesus and I’m not the same person that I was just an hour ago.” And he goes, slaps me on the back, you know, big Texan, he goes: “Buddy, you’ve been born again!” That’s what he said. And I said: “What is that?!” You know, “What does that mean?” So for about month and a half it was just glorious. All I could think about was Jesus. I remember the very next day they bought me a Ryrie Study Bible. I had that New American Standard Ryrie Study Bible, I took it to class. And my friends were looking at me again, like, “What are you pulling, Washer?” I said: “No, I’ve been born again. I’m not the same person.” I remember walking back the second day from class and there’s a big crowd out on the student mall and this guy is sitting there, kinda preaching, but he wasn’t preaching he was talking about humanism and free sex and all this different stuff and there is no morality and I didn’t know anything but I got so angry, I knew he was a liar. And so I just went through the crowd, it’s like something just picked me up and just pushed me, and I got right up to where he is and I said: “Sir,” –in a very loud voice– “You are a liar and you’re a deceiver and you’re deceiving all these people.” So that was my first sermon. Not a whole lot has changed since then.
And for about a month everything was really going well because at times when God saves a person he’ll literally immerse them in grace to protect them. And then a guy walks up to me and he goes, and I told him I’m a Christian, he goes: “When did you pray the prayer?” And I said: “What?” He goes: “When did you pray the prayer?” I said: “What prayer?” He goes: “The prayer.” And so he said down with me and explained to me how you have to pray and ask Jesus to come into your heart. So I’m, like: “I didn’t do that…” And then, for the next couple of months, at least six weeks, all the misery came back. Every day I would go and say: “If I didn’t pray this correctly, if I didn’t pray this right…” and prayed it again and again…and one day I just realized this is idiotic. I am a new creature. I became a new creature that day in the library.
But here’s what happened: When I was converted, I mean, like, I had a foul mouth, I mean, a foul mouth and it stopped just like that. The drinking stopped, the other thing stopped, What did not stop was…lying and exaggerating. You say: “Well, then you weren’t saved because liars don’t inherit the Kingdom.” Well, no, there was a big difference. I could tell a lie that big and it was like God drove a spear through my heart every time I would do it. And I would have to go back, it’s the most humbling thing in the world, and go to my friend and say: “I lied to you” or “I exaggerated this.” I mean, it was like daggers. It was horrible. It’s like someone stuck a knife in your throat and just ripped down through your entire body every time. Again, God takes away certain things from our lives the moment we’re converted. He allows other things to stay until He works through them progressively and it causes us to walk in humility, causes us not to leap and judge others. We know that sanctification is a process.
Well, I almost knew– This is really gonna be kinda hard to explain, but I almost knew the moment I was converted that I was also going to preach. And the reason why I knew that is because when I was a little boy, 14, 15 years old, 13, 12… I would have dreams at night and I could always see myself standing in front of a red curtain, a simple red curtain and simple wooden pulpit and I was preaching and I used to wake up crying and say: “God” –because I hated the idea of being a preacher– I said: “I’ll do anything. I’ll get saved” –I used to say that– “if you’ll just promise me I don’t have to preach because I don’t want to do that.”
So I kind of knew that this was something… And it was. It was just something that started coming and I felt like I had to witness to people. I can remember standing out on campus handing out tracts and, you know, girls would come by, the girls that used to, you know, I guess, think I was something, I hand them tracts and they take them, laugh and crumple them up in my face and throw them on the ground. My friends would come to me and they pull me aside and they go: “What how you done? “You joined a cult? What on Earth are you doing? “You’re standing out here in the middle of the campus, people think you’re out of your mind.” And I remember, I asked them one time, three of them got me, and I said: “Do you believe that Jesus died?” And they said: “Well, of course we do. You know, everybody knows that. He did that. I go to church, yeah.” And I go: “He died!” They said: “Yes.” I said: “What else can I do? I’m a prisoner now. I don’t have any options. I’m His.”
And there were a lot of struggles and things that went on, but…something that’s really– I wanna share with you is– About 2 years ago, 3 years ago a person was talking with me and they said: “Brother Paul, “we don’t want to exalt you or anything like that, but we just want to share with you– “We thank you for two things: “One, your bravery–that you will stand up and say the things you say even though men hate you. And two: that you tell the truth.” They told me that and I didn’t think much about it then I got in my car and I was driving back to the church where I was attending and I got out of the car and all of a sudden what they said hit me. And I began to weep uncontrollably. I had to go into the church and get in my office. The reason why, I thought: “Look what they’re saying …courage and truth.” Before I was a believer, even though I was strong, a lot of things, I was so intimidated by everybody. I think it was the reason why I lifted weights so much, I mean, I wouldn’t even want to go into a Walmart and return something, you know, I just was afraid someone would be angry or something. And then I looked back and thought: “If there was one thing that set me apart in my life before Christ is, I was a liar.” I would lie more than any human being I’ve ever known. And I sit there and go: “Now I am known as being courageous and telling the truth when I was the biggest coward and the biggest liar.”
Do you see that? Isn’t that amazing? And I would still be today the biggest coward and the biggest liar if it were not for the grace of God. And I find it amazing–that when I read the story “The Life of George Muller”, you know, he handled millions of dollars, died basically with nothing but the suit he had on his back, took care of tens of thousands of orphans, his reputation was his stewardship of finances, and yet, before he was converted he was a thief who stole money from his own father, was thrown in jail for ripping people off and not paying his debts. Isn’t that amazing? God takes that which is not and makes it so that it is. That means that it is all the grace of God.
Sometimes I’ll look at my children and I say: “Do you believe that I’m a good dad and that I love your mom?” And they will say: “Yes dad.” And I’ll go: “The only reason you can say that is because of what God did for your dad, “because your dad would’ve never been able to marry, have a marriage, would’ve never been able to care for children, “because he was in bondage to his own vanity and sin. So anything good that you’re receiving from this man is the recreating work of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
And after I was saved, I was very, very fortunate to go to a church, it was just an Independent Baptist church, but independent, not as a denomination, it was just a Baptist church. And the pastor there was one of the most unusual men that I ever met. He wasn’t reformed, he wasn’t anything like that– I’ve never seen to this day a man preach with more power. I’ve never seen a man so filled with the Holy Ghost. And while I was there an old man by the name of brother Pittman put some books in my hand: “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret”, “The Autobiography of George Muller”, Leonard Ravenhill’s “Why Revival Tarries” and these books about men who prayed, not just prayed, prayed hours and hours and hours a day. And seeing a living example of the power of the Holy Spirit in front of me every Sunday and in these books made me realize something: Christianity, although it has to do with doctrine, and doctrine is foundational, it is, it is only that doctrine is foundational, it is about life and power. It is–the power to live–Paul says: “the power that works mightily within me.”
And I tell you this testimony because it is absolutely– I cannot understand my life apart from it. For some reason after a few years in my Christianity God began to work in me a prayer life that I have never been able to duplicate since. It started out an hour a day, then two hours a day, sometimes three hours a day… Almost crazy. I worked at a cafeteria in order to support myself through school as soon as I get back from there I go to the library, get home from the library at 11 o’clock at night I would pray till 1, 2, 3 in the morning then get up in the morning at seven, go back to classes… just…it went on for months and months. I know this sounds almost crazy to you but I decided I would either know God or die. I was a Christian, I knew God, I was born again, but there was this thing that I could know Him and that His power could be a reality in my life. And I said: “I’m gonna go in this closet and I’m not coming out until either God meets with me –I didn’t even know what that meant– God meets with me or I die. I fell asleep 15 minutes later and all my roommates came home about 3 hours later and found me asleep in the closet. They thought I had totally lost my mind. So I began to set an alarm clock every 15 minutes because I have until today– because I work hard, sometimes when I pray I fall asleep and so the alarm would go off, it’d wake me back up, I’d start praying, I’d set it again and for months all I prayed was this: “Lord, it’s been 47 days now… “and you still have not come. You said if I sought you, I would find you.” And then: “Lord, it’s been 93 days.” And all I would do for hours is sit there and go: “I’m waiting, I am not leaving. I’m not leaving” and I would just sit there. Everybody went on a youth retreat, some kind of college retreat in the spring, I’ll never forget that. And I knew that the Lord wanted me to go out into the Hill Country of West Texas, I went out there, 3-3,5 days and if someone had seen me, they would have called the authorities. I’m up on top of a hill–I got the point I’m gabbing rocks and I’m throwing them as high as I can into the sky saying: “Did that hit the door? Did that hit the gate? “Did you hear me?! “I’m still here! Where are you? Where is the Lord, God of Elijah?” I went back to school. One night I was crying out to God… I didn’t really know anything about prayer, I’d still been a Christian for only about a year or so– crying out to God: “I’m still here.” Wait there 3 hours just saying: “Still here. Here I am. Still here.”
And all of a sudden I just cried out: “Father…please….” Now, some of you are going to disagree with me and I don’t care, but at that moment, God came into that place in such a way that I was thrown down to the ground and I lay there in a fetal position covering my head with my arms, thinking that I had somehow either blasphemed or He was sick and tired of what I was doing– I was so afraid, I lay there, I couldn’t control my body. I don’t know how long it went. I was convinced that there were firetrucks and police and everything outside of my apartment complex because there was probably some fire coming down from heaven. Then I don’t know after how many hours but I was filled with such joy. My mouth shot open, and it’s like Proverbs and Psalms came out, and no–don’t be afraid I didn’t speak in tongues. But for hours I just went to speaking great things about God, magnificent things about God.
Now, whatever you want to say, I can tell you, my preaching on the streets, everything changed. Do I still struggle with sin? Yes. Do I carry revival around in my pocket? Absolutely not. But the presence of the living God is more real to me in this building right now, than the presence of all of you put together. And the whole thing I was wanting to tell you is that our Lord God is more than a propositional truth. And you will never be able to tell me that the Old Testament saints were privy to more of the presence of God than those of us in the New Testament to whom the fulfillment of all things has come. That God is a supernatural God, that in prayer a man can meet with God and that God can draw near to a man or a woman to such an extent that they cannot even– I understand Apocalyptic language now– That one of the reasons why a prophet is writing in such strange language is because he is on the border of that which is madness. He’s looking at things that not even our mind can comprehend. His language could not explain because he could not comprehend. What I try to communicate to my children through each doctrine– We want them to understand the confessions. We want them to understand the principles and proverbs and so many other things, but what I want you to see is this, our God is a living God. And as Leonard Ravenhill used to say: “Everybody wants to give a new definition of Christianity, but the world is waiting for is a new demonstration of Christianity.” Those have been things that have been fundamental to the rest of my life. so we will a–we will end in here. But let me tell you this. When we talk about this, seeking after God and experiences, no two lives are the same, what happens to one believer does not have to happen to another. We shouldn’t seek experiences, but we should seek God in Christ. But what we should come away with is this: There is a Christianity out there, there is a God out there that is waiting to be called upon. And to be boldly pursued. And out of such boldness He takes a great deal of delight. It’s just like, sometimes it’s almost like He looks down at the angels and says: “Here comes the wild man again.” Such a wildness. God delights in that. One of my favorite poems is: “There is a joy in the journey, “a light we can love on the way. There is a wonder and wildness to life, and freedom for those who obey.” Let me pray.