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"What God Did for Me"
In the summer of 1996, I began feeling that I wanted to know whoever it was that really knew God, and I wanted to learn from him. I was a young man in sin at that time, but God had put a strong conviction on my heart to be free from it, and to live a godly life.
The following summer, He introduced me to a group of people and their pastor, John Clark, who met regularly in their homes to study the Bible and pray. This group taught that you could live without sin, but not without the Spirit of God in your life, and both were necessary to be saved in the end.
Part of the conviction that God put on my heart was to make the “wrongs” in my life as right as I could, and to treat people in a way that I thought would please God. If I had stolen something, I had to return it, and pay interest, too. If I had lied or misled someone, I had to make that right. There was a lot I had to repent of, but it was not at all a burden; it was a relief.
After a few months, I was in one of these home prayer meetings. While everyone in the group was praying, my jaw started shaking, almost uncontrollably. I had never heard of nor experienced such a thing before. I said to my wife, who was kneeling beside me, “My jaw will not stop shaking, I think something is going on.” What that something was, I didn’t know, I just knew that this was new to me.
Later during that same meeting, I was on the floor seeking God while God’s people around me were praising the Lord, encouraging my wife and me, and so on. I told God, “Ok God, wherever your Spirit leads, I’ll go.”
Within moments, I began weeping in a way that I had never wept before, from the very bottom of my belly. When I finished crying several minutes later, I then felt a tickle from the same spot, deep in my belly, and I began to chuckle. This chuckle slowly turned into the most intense laughter I had/have ever experienced in my life. While laughing like this, I felt like God let me inside His mind, and this is what I “heard” – “Try to think of a problem. There are no problems with Me. There is not a single thing you can think of that is a problem for Me.” Just the thought that something was too big for God was absolutely hilarious to me. While I was on that floor, I didn’t just believe that there were no problems for God, I KNEW it.
When I awoke the following morning, I had a joy like never before. I was so very, very happy. Words cannot describe the joy I was feeling – it was like heaven on earth. One of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, talked about “joy unspeakable and full of glory”, and that’s exactly how I felt.
Amazing things continued happening in these prayer meetings after this. In one meeting, many saints were standing around praising God, and the Spirit was moving. I remember being hunched over near a dear brother named Earl Pittman, and when I felt the Spirit of God “swoosh” by us, the thought hit me, “Oh man, he’s going to lay his hands on me.” That’s exactly what he did, and as soon as he did, a sentence or two in a foreign language flew out of my mouth. I had no control over this whatsoever; it just came out, as if I was a life-long, fluent speaker of this language.
I came to find out later what had happened to me - I had received the “baptism of the holy Spirit and fire”. This “fire” is what it takes to not only know God, but to also live a godly life. After this happened to me, the sins that had held me captive for years completely vanished away; things that had been such a struggle were suddenly no struggle at all anymore.
I had been a fairly heavy drinker in college, and though I very much wanted to quit, I never could. At the end of a long theatre production I was in, the cast and crew were throwing a party. I grabbed a glass of champagne, as I normally did, and a new feeling hit me – I don’t want this anymore. For the first time, there was no attraction whatsoever to it, and there hasn’t been to this day.
This was just one of many things that began changing in me, and what I have learned is that this is a process that doesn’t stop. As long as the Spirit and power of God are welcome in our lives, we will continue to be changed, and to know God more and more.
One thing I love about God is that there are no dead ends in Him. If we think we have a problem, are in need, or lack the knowledge of God, God doesn’t strain a bit to deliver or provide for us. That’s what He did, and is doing, for me!
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men
liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Jas. 1:5)
“He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said,
‘Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’” (Jn. 7:38)
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