Good morning everyone. I have a praise testimony this morning that echoes from Earth to Heaven and back again.
In the late 1970's, I met a group from First United Pentecostal Church of Chula Vista California, where I was Baptized In The Name Of Jesus Christ, and later in The Holy Spirit. I was very young, far from my East Coast home, and no one, including myself, knew quite what to do with me. When I lost confidence in the church, I decided that the street had better answers for me, because if nothing else, the friends I had out there seemed to know how I fit in their world, so to that world I returned. I fully expected that world to kill me sometime soon, and felt that made the most sense in a life that had never made sense, even before I was born.
For 23 years, I wandered through a life i didn't understand, never knowing where or how I was supposed to fit. I was a full member of the second generation of the Hippie underground who came of age in the 1970's. We had a life expectancy of 22-30 years, surviving past age 35 was incomprehensible to those of us who managed such a feat. To my bewildered surprise, I couldn't seem to get myself killed. It seemed like everybody else could and did, but not me, not by accident (there were some close calls, including 2 probable miracles, once on the edge of a cliff, the other on the back of a motorcycle...), and not deliberately. I had 2 entirely serious suicide attempts in the 1990's, which, I obviously survived.
In September of 2003, at the age of 42, a dedicated Christian man led me to Christ, not in a church, but rather in a very dirty factory. He discipled me for about one year, helping me to understand the Bible I was reading for the first time, and encouraging me with solid discussions about my concerns and answers to my questions. I tried to connect with a church, tried over the following years at several different churches, but I just couldn't find anywhere that felt safe to me, so I worked out my Salvation at home. I knew from the beginning that there4 could be only one possible Truth about one possible God Who was actually big enough to create the universe we see in the Hubble Telescope pictures, and i was sure that the one possible Truth was expressed in the Bible alone. I had that much. I knew that the Holy Spirit is real because when I speak in Tongues, I don't fake it, because I don't need or want to. I knew that a lot of the religious disagreement was superficial because the man who led me to Christ does not speak in Tongues, but his testimony made it very clear that he, too is filled with the same Holy Spirit, so to this day, I trust the Bible alone.
Because I worked out the vast majority of my understanding of the Truth about God in isolation, it has been very difficult for me to be sure how much of my experiences were genuine. Even though I know full good and well that I am not making anything about my experience up, I had no idea what normal might be, because without some confirmation in other people, it was quite possible that I had gotten lost along the way and didn't know it. Maybe that was why I felt so uncomfortable in church. I had been through so many heavy shocks in my life, I was also not entirely sure I hadn't gone slightly insane. No matter how many times and how many ways Jesus Christ tried to tell me I was OK, it was really hard not to doubt myself.
This is the seventh year of my Salvation unfolding. In February, I was reading the Book Of Joshua, and the following Scripture "leaped out" at me:
Again and again this year, through both in person encounters, and particularly through discussions and posts in this forum, I have been receiving full reassurance that my personal experiences with Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit are within the parameters of normal, and that through the guidance of Scripture, and the extraordinary faithfulness of Jesus Christ, I am safely on the narrow path which leads to the narrow Gate which leads to Eternity. there are no words for the sense of privilege and Grace implied by that idea, simply no words. Then, yes there are words, and those words are these:9 Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." So the place has been called Gilgal [a] to this day.
Joshua 5:9 Gilgal sounds like the Hebrew for roll .
Jesus Christ is real.
It is all true.
If anyone can merely trust in the Bible, accept It at face value without trying to reinterpret a single Word, phrase or sentence, the Word will lead you to this very same Truth I am testifying to with this post. It really happened.