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The Refiner's Fire
A Testimony, Part 2
(If you missed Part 1: The Call of God, please click HERE.)

In the first part of my testimony you read about the events the Lord had to bring about in my life to lead me to salvation. Now I would like to share with you a little of what the Lord took me through as He began to lay the foundation of my faith.

A couple of months after my coming to the Lord, God opened a door for me to go to Texas to attend a ministry school there, the same ministry where my friend from high school was, which made the trip a little easier. Not long after I arrived in Texas God started to bring me through a learning process.

Now the pastor that taught the school was anointed of the Lord and truly heard from God and through him the Holy Spirit really brought the scriptures to life. Over the next 3 years God raised me up in the knowledge and the image of our creator and the Lord laid a deep foundation of His Word in my heart. At the time I wasn't quite sure why, but over the next two decades it would start to become painfully obvious.

You see, during those 3 years of training God gave me prophesies, words and visions concerning my walk with Him, to the affect of "Do not fear, for I am with thee. I am your God. Look unto Me in your time of need and I will finish the work that I have started in you." God also gave me two words that looking back on now also rang very loudly in the Spirit of truth at the time as well. Those words were that I would be going to jail and if someone hits you in the head with a big stick - don't wonder why they hit you with the stick - see what God is telling you. Now you must keep in mind that this was right after I married the pastor's niece that these words came forth. It was in the summer of 1987, which was about 2 years into my 3 year stay with the ministry in Texas. I had no way of knowing what was in store for me down the road but I did understand one thing for sure, that God is truth and seeing that God give us His Spirit, "The Spirit of Truth," to bear witness to the Truth, I had a strange feeling that it was more than likely going to pan out that way.

In the spring of 1988 a door opened up for me to go to Phoenix, Arizona which happened to be the city where my two older brothers lived. It also happened to be just about the time that my very short marriage to the pastor's niece ended. So I left the ministry, taking a job with an advertising company in Phoenix. It wasn't too long after that things started to go horribly wrong. I guess I didn't realize just how serious God was about the callings that He puts on our lives, especially if He has called you to preach the gospel.

About a month after arriving in Phoenix I was starting to backslide. Before I knew it I was deep in sin. Everything I was involved in before came back worse than ever. I became addicted to crack cocaine and was pimping out one of my girlfriends to get money. I became very violently angry at the drop of a hat. This went on for 2 or 3 years and through several relationships, all of which ended in disaster, which wasn't much of a surprise. After that I became a methamphetamine addict and dealer.

Now people, I am here to tell you that I thought that I had sunk to my lowest when I was on crack, but looking back on it now, I had no idea at that time just how far down into the depths of depravity I would go. You see, there is one thing about meth. Methamphetamine, meth, brings out every, and I do mean every, type of compulsive behavior imaginable. I mean, I was involved in every kind of sick and depraved act of sin that you can imagine and I am willing to bet that there were a couple that you would not want to imagine. So it went on for several years as I wormed my way through the underbelly of the drug scene in Phoenix, Arizona which found me in the place of being one of the most prominent methamphetamine drug dealers in Phoenix. I was working with some of the most dangerous groups in the nation, one such group being the "Arian Brotherhood." The A.B., the "Arian Brotherhood," is a lovely group of boys consisting totally of convicted felon white racists, most of which would just as soon kill you as look at you. "Ah, yes, my partners in crime."

All of this came to a head in the fall of 1994 when the last of the two words God had given me came to pass. It was about 7:30 or 8:00 o'clock in the evening and I had just completed a drug deal with a couple of real winners when I heard coming from the doorway behind me an unmistakable sound. It was the sound of a Colt 45 pistol slide chambering a round. The two fellows that I had just concluded doing business with had come back to rob me. As I jumped up and started for the two would-be robbers, (which turned out to not be the brightest thing I had ever done,) one of them pulled out a lead-filled, wooden police riot baton and struck me in the head. As I laid there semi-conscious I remember thinking "man, I hope he's not going to shoot me and I really hope that he's not planning on hitting me with that big ol' stick again." It was right about that time that the Lord brought back to my mind the words that He had spoken to me through the pastor in Texas some years earlier. In a nutshell, God said if someone hits you in the head with a big stick, see what God is trying to tell you.

Well, obviously, I survived. But they did manage to smash in the entire left side of my face crushing my left check bone, the orbital bone of my left eye socket as well as my left sinus, crack the upper pallet of my jaw, and knocking out a couple of teeth to boot, leaving me with a plate in my face from the reconstructive surgery. All this was an experience that I did not want to soon repeat, but I still wasn't ready to listen to God.

Needless to say, during the time I spent in the hospital which was a week or so, my "girlfriend" at the time, along with all of her little cronies took me for all of my dope, cash and prizes to the tune of about $75,000. This left me broke and on the street which leads me to the fulfillment of the first of the two words the Lord had given me, that I would be going to jail.

It didn't take long for me to find my next girlfriend. She was the poster girl for the old adage, "she is the kind of girl that you don't want to bring home to mother." She was an intravenous drug user that would sleep with anyone who would bring her a bag of soft-shell tacos for dinner. I had been living with this girlfriend for a couple of months before I realized that I was under surveillance by a D.E.A. taskforce. I don't think they knew that I had been forced out of the big time methamphetamine dealing by my latest set of divinely lead circumstances. The one thing that they were aware of was that we were living in a house that had no power or running water which is illegal in Phoenix. When they came in and found that there were no drugs in the house, we found ourselves living on the street. Now living on the street anywhere is highly over rated, but living on the street in Phoenix can be deadly with summer daytime temperature reaching upwards of 120° and not dropping much below that at night.

My girlfriend and I decided to steal a truck and move to a small town just south of Phoenix. We were in town for about 24 hours when we were arrested on stolen vehicle charges, (the fulfillment of the first of the two words that the Lord had given me,) and still I wasn't ready to listen to God. So between going to jail for 6 months and spending a year on probation I spent almost two years in that little hole-in-the-wall town. By the time it was all said and done you'd think that I would have been ready to get my life back to the Lord, but I hadn't hit bottom yet. It would be another 8 years of "meth" addiction, gambling addiction, and more of every type of sick and twisted sexual perversion you can think of before the Lord had brought me to a place to want to cry out to Him.

I did finally come to the place where I knew absolutely that I needed God. After 17 years of backsliding and spitting in God's face through my sin and disobedience I knew Jesus was my only hope. It was at that point the lies of the enemy came flooding in telling me God wouldn't want me back after how badly I had betrayed Him. I started to fear that now after I finally saw that I needed God's help that He wouldn't forgive me for all that I had done. People, I mean hopelessness and self-condemnation gripped me.

Then I heard the still quiet voice of the Lord bringing me back to the words that He had spoken to me 17 years before, "Do not fear for I am with thee. I am your God. Look unto Me in your time of need and I will finish the work that I have started in you." I began to pray and I said, "Lord Jesus, please forgive me. I know that for the past 17 years I have turned away from you but I ask you to come into my heart and fill me with your Spirit. I know I sinned against you in selfishness and disobedience. I ask to know you and to be known by you. Come and make your home with me."

Just like that, 17 years of guilt and fear just melted away and I was filled with the peace and the Love of God. God has been faithful to His Word and has given back all that I had thrown away. He has renewed my faith, restored my ministry and has brought me into a closer walk with Him than I ever dreamed was possible. Even now as I am writing this I cannot keep from weeping for I know my Brothers and Sisters, I am here today and able to share my testimony with you only because of the Love and Mercy of God.

You see, it's not how far you think you are from God but rather how close God is to you. It doesn't matter how long or how far you have backslidden but how willing you are to step back across that line and ask the Lord Jesus to forgive you. I urge you, no matter how bleak it looks, it's always brighter once you come across that line. So please, if you don't have Jesus in your life - accept Him. If you have backslidden, repent and give your life back to Christ. The soul that is saved may be your own.

(If you missed Part 1: The Call of God, please click HERE.)

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