My Testimony of God

Introduction: 

I have retitled this testimony because it is not about me.  It is about God.  I remembered the words of Jesus, “The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works” John 14:10″.  It is about things God did in my life and some things that some people will have a hard time understanding.  Just keep in mind that “with God nothing shall be impossible”.  Another thing to keep in mind is that God does not work in everybody’s life in the same way.  God is still the God of miracles today.  He is the “same yesterday, today and will be the same tomorrow”.  And He still answers prayer.  As I have already started writing this, I realize that it will probably get lengthy.  I hope you will read all of it even if not at one time.  May God speak to you and encourage you through my relationship with Him.

Salvation:

As boy, I was raised in the church.  My parents took me to church from the time I was a baby.  One Sunday morning when I was twelve years old the pastor’s message about Jesus dying on the cross and paying the wages of our sin spoke to me.   I was suddenly aware that Jesus died for me personally.  When the invitation was given, I told my mother that I had to go.  She thought I had to go the bathroom and said that the service was almost over.  I told her that I had to go down front where the pastor was.  She said to wait and we would talk with the Pastor that afternoon.  The pastor’s name was Ralph Thomas.  After lunch we went to the Pastor’s house and we talked.  Then I prayed for God to save me.  This was God’s first miracle in my life.

Church Conflict:

Not long after I became a Christian I saw the church force the pastor to leave.  We got another pastor and after he had been there about a year and a half they forced him to leave.  As a new Christian and a young teenager this was confusing to me.  I couldn’t align what I witnessed within the church with what I knew the Bible said.  It got to where I had trouble staying focused and enjoying the services.  I talked with my mother about it and said that I needed to find a different church to go to.  As it happened, I stopped going to church all together.

A vow to God:

After I graduated from high school and got married my wife and I moved to my home town to live.  One night some of the deacons from my home church came to visit us.  We talked and when they left I told God that if anybody got me back in church it would be the pastor that was preaching when I got saved.  I didn’t know where he was or even if he was still alive.  I guess I felt that that was a safe thing to say to God.  I didn’t tell anybody else about my vow to God. 

A Divine Appointment:

A year or two later we moved to a town nearby.  My wife and I had been talking about getting in church.  We had a son by now and wanted our children to be brought up in church.  We also wanted to make some friends because we did not know anyone in this town.  The Lord led Ralph Thomas to pastor a church in that town, he ran into an aunt of mine at a shopping center and she told him where I lived and that I was not going to church.  While I was at home one day I heard a knock at our door and went to see who was there.  When I opened the door there stood Brother Thomas.  I recognized him immediately and the Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance my vow to God before either one of us spoke a word.  I knew God was telling me that it was time for me to get back in church. 

A New Church Family and Service For the Lord:

Connie and I started going to Brother Thomas’ church.  We had a great experience there and made some wonderful friends.  I rededicated my life to the Lord and Connie got saved.  After we had been there for a while, I was asked to teach the graduates class in Sunday school.  I had never taught a class before and had always been very shy and bashful.  I told them that I would have to pray about it.  The Lord impressed on me that he wanted me to take the teaching position.  Without any experience or training I began to teach.  Shortly after I started teaching the graduates class, the Lord led me to do something different.  When I arrived that Sunday morning, I sat up the chairs in a tight circle in the center of the room.  The students arrived and sat in the chairs while questioning what we were going to do.  When class started we removed the empty chairs and moved our chairs as close together as we could get them.  I told the students that we were going to listen to two songs that I had on tape and that I wanted them to listen very carefully to the words.  They were about Jesus’ love and his dying on the cross to save us from our sins.  When the songs were over, I told them that I wanted each of them to pray as we went around the circle.  When it came my turn, I got up and went around the outside of the circle, placed my hands on each of their heads and prayed for them personally.  Then I got back in my chair closed the circle and finished the prayer.  The presence of our Lord was very strong in that room and I could tell the students felt it and were very moved.  As I was on my way to the choir room to get ready for the worship service, I was met by three or four parents who wanted to know what happened in Sunday School class.  They had never seen their children so excited about Sunday school.  And so the Lord began to use me.  I began to serve the Lord in other positions of the church and became a deacon.

God Provides a Spiritual Guide:

I came to a place in my life that I felt I needed a closer walk with the Lord.  I saw things in the Bible that I didn’t see in my life and I wanted all God had for me.  I prayed for God to send someone to help me get closer to him.  Where I worked as a computer operator they wanted to add a second shift to handle the additional work we were getting.  They asked me to go on the second shift as a supervisor.  I didn’t want to do this because Connie worked on the first shift.  I told them that I would have to think about it.  While praying about it I realized that there would only be one other person working with me and that it would be a good time for God to send someone to help me spiritually.  I felt God was in it and I told them that I would take the position.   A couple of days later, I was in the Computer room operating the computer and the Data Processing Manager came in with a folder.  He gave it to me and said that I would be working with the person and to go through the files and see if there was someone there that I felt we should hire.  This had never happened in the history of the Department.  I knew that there was someone there that God was sending to help me spiritually.  As I started to go through the applications I came across a man who was a ministerial student at a Christian Bible College in a town nearby.  I knew before I looked at his qualifications that he was the one.  As it turned out he was over qualified for the job.  I took the folder back to the Manager and showed him the one that I thought we should hire.  He looked the application over and gave it back to me.  He then said for me to call him, have him come in and interview him for the position.  This had never happened in the history of the Department either.  Not to mention that I had never interviewed anyone in my life.  I called Bob Smith and told him to come in for an interview.  When he came we talked more about the Lord and the Word of God than we did about the job.  The next day I told the Manager that I thought we should hire this man and so they did.

Bob and I made a good team.  We could almost make the computer run itself.  We also had a number of jobs to run that took a long time.  We would have two to four jobs running at a time some times.  We would bring in our Bibles, gospel music, and other books.  We would talk about the Lord and his word all the time.  We also would pray.  Many times I would sing along with the music.  Some of the people began to ask us to pray for things and people they knew.  God began to answer our prayers and we got more prayer requests.  One night I got a call from a pastor I didn’t even know who said that he heard we were having prayers answered and he wanted us to pray for his church and their upcoming revival.  We began to be referred to as the shift that prays.

One night Bob got a call from a lady in the church he attended in another town.  She wanted him to counsel her about something.  He asked me if it would be ok if she came over.  I said sure and she came.  When she arrived I told them to go to the break room where they could get some coffee and where it would be quieter.  After being up there for a while they came back to the computer room.  The woman began to ask me some questions.  I gave her my answers and began to quote scripture to support my answers.  She began to look at me kind of funny and finally said, “I don’t believe this”.  I said, “What are you talking about”?  She said, I am asking you the same questions I asked Bob in the break room and not only are you giving me the same answers, but you are giving me the same scriptures”.  I said, “God is speaking to you and you better pay attention”.  God was providing a point of ministry for us right there on our job.  Through my fellowship with Bob I began to grow in my knowledge of the word and of the experience of God in my life.

One night Bob, Connie and I went to a Gospel meeting.  After the singing and the message the minister said for anyone who wanted to be filled with the spirit to come forward.  Well I went forward.  As I stood up front praying the minister put his hands on my forehead.   He said, “Just relax and receive it”.  I felt a power come in the top of my head and go down to my chest.  It stopped there and began to go out my arms.  When my arms were full, the power began to go down the rest of my body.  My whole body was full of the power.  Acts 1:8 says, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit come upon you and you shall be my witnesses….”.  And the power just kept on coming until I was filled completely.  I felt that my body was pulsating with this power and that if anybody touched me they would feel it.  I felt this power in me for a week.  It was there when I went to bed and when I got up the next morning.   So I was filled with the Spirit.

One night Bob came down from the break room and he looked terrible.  He said that he had a bad headache.   A headache like no headache he had ever had before.  He leaned across one of the tables and told me that I was going to have to pray.  I knew that he expected me to pray and he expected something to happen.  Many times people ask you to pray for them but you don’t get the felling that they expect anything to happen.  But it was obvious that Bob did.  I had never had this experience before.  He was really depending on my prayer and God’s answer.  I thought of the Scripture in 1 John 5:14-15.  “This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him”.  So I leaned across the table and began to pray silently reminding God of this scripture.  I told God that I loved Bob and that I wanted to see him healed but that I wanted to pray according to His will.  I asked him to reveal to me what his will was in regard to Bob’s condition.   I heard a voice like no other I have ever heard.  This voice seemed to come from every direction at once.  It was a voice of absolute power and authority.    It is a voice that results in whatever it says happening.  The voice said, “Stand back and watch”.  Without any effort of my own, my body was moved back and I was made to stand in an upright position.  Without saying a word I stood there and watched Bob.  He began to stand up from the table he had been leaning on and had a strange look on his face.  Then these words came out of my mouth.  I was speaking without any effort as I said,” The pain is going out of the top of your head”.   I was amazed at what came out of my mouth because I don’t normally exhibit that kind of faith or speak words of faith like that.  Bob said, “It is.  I can feel it going out the top of my head”.  I then could see what appeared to be a mist rising from Bob’s head.  I said, “I can see it going out the top of your head”.  In a matter of seconds the pain was gone and he was feeling fine.  God had performed another miracle.

Church Conflict:

We had a conflict arise in our church between two women.  One did something against the other and I saw people in the church begin to take sides.  The one who did this thing took her child out of the other woman’s Sunday School class.  I was in the choir one Sunday shortly thereafter and it was like a vision.  I saw the devil driving a wedge down the middle of the church.  I knew it was his desire to destroy our church.  Connie and I treated these two women as if we knew nothing about the incident.  We would even have the two of them and their families over to our house at the same time.  One morning not long after this happened, I was sitting at the table reading the Bible and praying.  Connie was already at work.  The Lord laid these two women on my heart.  He was leading me to go and talk with them.  There was an urgency upon me to go right then.  I started to go out the door but I did not have a peace about it.  I went to the end of the hall where it was dark, I got down on my knees and began to pray for God’s help.  I said, “Lord I don’t have to know what I am going to say or what is going to happen but give me a peace about it”.   I remembered the scripture in Philippians 4:6-7 which says, “Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”.  I got up quickly and rushed to the front door but I couldn’t go out.  I did not have a peace about it.  So I went back to the end of the hall and prayed again.  Upon rushing back to the front door I still didn’t have a peace.  So for the third time I went to the end of the hall and prayed.  This time when I got to the door I had a peace.  I had never interceded in a situation like this before so I was hoping the pastor could go with me.  On the way to the church I said, “Lord if you want the pastor to go with me then let him be at his home or at the church but if he is not at either place I will know that you want me to go alone”.  The pastor was not at his home and he was not at the church so as I was getting back into the car I said, “Lord it’s just you and me”.  As I was going down the street to the first lady’s house I saw her in her front yard working in the flowers.  She invited me to come in and we sat down in the living room and began to talk.  I brought up the subject and she said that she didn’t know that Connie and I knew anything about it but when she saw me coming down the road she knew why I was coming.  As we talked, I felt like my flesh and spirit was separated.  I was in the spirit and was quoting scripture that I couldn’t even remember having ever read.  After we had talked a while she said that she wanted to make things right and that she would like to meet with the other woman and that she wanted me to be there.  I told her that I would see what the Lord led us to do.  I told her that from that moment on she needed to treat the other woman as if nothing had ever happened.  I said that I was going to talk with the other woman and that if she felt the same way then we might not have to have a meeting.  While we were talking it was pouring down rain.  It was one of those rains that the wind blows the rain at an angle to the ground.  I remembered that I had left my window down and the wind was blowing the rain right in the direction of my window.  While I was talking with her I said what seemed like a foolish prayer.   I said, “Lord, I am here doing what you have led me to do.  It would be nice if I had a dry seat to go to when I leave”.  This lady, her daughter and I got down on our knees to pray and while we were praying the phone rang.  The daughter went to answer it.  I heard her say that her mother and Mr. Norman were in the living room praying.  The person on the other end must have said, “They are what” because she repeated herself.  She came back and joined as we finished praying.   As I was going out the door the lady said, “Let me get you a towel for you seat because it has been raining and the wind was blowing in the direction of your window and it was down”.  Some words of faith came out of my mouth that shocked even me.  I said, “I got a feeling that I don’t need one”.   She said, “But it was raining hard and the wind was blowing toward your window which was down”.  I knew I couldn’t go against the words of faith so I just turned and went to my car.  She followed close behind me and as I opened the door I reached in and felt of the seat.  I turned back towards her and smiled.  She said, “Don’t tell me it is not wet”.  I said, “It is not even damp”.  Then she said, “Don’t ever tell anyone because they will not believe it”.  Well, I then went to the other ladies house and we talked.  She said the same thing the first lady said.  That she wanted to make things right and that she wanted to meet with the other lady and me.  I told her the same thing I told the first lady.  That from then on she needed to act like nothing had ever happened and we would see if the Lord wanted us to meet.  Well we never had to meet.

The Lord Calls Me To Preach:

After we had been in the church for a few years I felt that there was something that the Lord wanted me to do but I didn’t know what it was.  I would pray and pray.   I would go down front during the invitation and pray.  This went on for about a year.  Then one Sunday morning I was singing in the choir during the invitation.   The Spirit came on me and it was like the Lord planted the knowledge in my head.  I knew that the Lord was calling me to preach.  I left the choir and went to the pastor.  I told him that I had something to say to the church.  He put me behind the pulpit and I told the church that the Lord had called me to preach.  After the service the devil began to work on me and tried to convince me that the Lord had not really called me to preach.  The pastor always recorded the services so I told him I would like to come by that afternoon and make a copy of the service for my own.  When I got to the office he was in a conference with someone so I told him that I was going to go over to the sanctuary.  When I got to the sanctuary I sat down on the front pew and began to pray.  I told God that the devil was trying to convince me that He had not called me to preach.  I couldn’t get any peace about it.  I looked up and saw the little pew on the platform where the pastor usually sat.  I went up there, sat down where he usually sat and looked out at the empty sanctuary.  I began to feel a burden for the church.  I again began to pray.  I told God that if He had really called me to preach that I wanted to do his will but that I had to know for sure.  I finally said, “Lord, You know I don’t usually do this but I am going to open my Bible and I want you to let it open to the scripture beyond all other scriptures that will let me know that you have called me to preach”.  So I opened my Bible and it fell open to the following scripture.   “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hat anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).  Then my eyes fell on verse 21 which says, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears”.  I felt the presence of the Lord and I had my answer. 

Within a year Brother Thomas left our church to pastor another church and we got another pastor.  Since God had called me to preach I changed my major at the Community College and was finishing up there.  The new pastor stayed there for a couple of years and he left.  Then the church asked me to serve as interim pastor.  I told them that I would be leaving to go off to Bible College in about four months but that I would serve as interim pastor until I had to leave.

Bible College and a New Direction:

While I was at Bible College I continued to work in Data Processing at night and go to school during the day.  The College would make arrangements for us ministerial students to go out to churches to preach on Sundays.

I graduated from Bible College in May of 1978 and began to pray about where God wanted me to Pastor.  In August the company I worked for gave me a promotion and moved me to the day shift.  I also got a raise.  In December I got another promotion and a raise.  My salary had doubled from August to December.  I was now Operations Manager for this company with 75 branch stores in Southeast United States.  This was great.  I was making more money than I had ever made in my life.  But I was not satisfied.  The Lord had called me to preach and that is what I wanted to do.  We went through a conversion from Univac to IBM computers.  During the conversion the company bought out a company in California with 30 stores and a company in Michigan with 28 stores and these companies were going on-line with our computer along with the 75 branch stores that were already online to our computer.  Even while we were doing that my operations initiated many changes for the better.  With many of the programs changes we suggested they didn’t even need some of the machines they had ordered.  We saved the company a lot of money.  Things were going great from that stand point.  In the spring, I began to tell the Lord that if he wanted me in the ministry to take my job and open a door for me to pastor someplace.  One day as I left the break room I saw a lady from the payroll department.  She asked me if I had picked up my check.  I told her no and she said that she didn’t find it with the others.  I jokingly said, “Maybe I have been fired and don’t know it”.  As I walked down the hall the Data Processing Manager asked if I had a minute.  We went into his office and he shut the door.  I knew then that something was up.  He sat silently for a few minutes and then said, “Jim, I think it would be better for you and the company if you resigned”.  I suddenly felt the peace of God that passes all understanding.  I knew that God was at work here and that He had a church for me somewhere.  I said, “I don’t want to work where I am not wanted” and I resigned.  After about three weeks of prayer I told my wife that God wanted us back in Florida.  School was out and I took the two older children and went to my parents house in Florida.  A pulpit chairman called me and asked me to come preach in view of a call.  I did and was called to be their pastor.  I received my last severance check from my previous job one week and got my first check from my first church the nexrt week.

My First Church:

This church was located in a poor and high crime area.  Within a year and a half I had performed funerals for three men in one family.  Two had been shot and the third had shot and killed himself.  One of our choir rehersals was interrupted by sirens and flashing lights outside of the church.  A man was trying to kill his father.  I witnessed a man lying on the sidewalk passsed out from drugs.  The Lord began to work in me and in the church.  God gave me a vision of his will for our church.  It involved three things.  God wanted us to start a Christian Social Service Ministry, start a Spanish Ministry, and to relocate the anglo congregation to another site.

Our Christian Social Service Ministry:

God led a Woman and her husband to lead the ministry.  We joined two food banks where we could purchase food by the pound.  We met on Tuesdays to sort food and clothes and opened to hand out these items on Fridays.  Other churches helped out with funds, clothes and food.  Some people from other churches also came to work in the ministry.  God led people from other denominations and from as far away as 20 miles to work in this ministry.  God revealed to me that this ministry was going to be a light in our Association, in the state of Florida and throughout the world.  I wondered how this could happen.  After we had been doing this ministry for about two years I got a call from the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in Atlanta, Georgia.  They had heard about our ministry and wanted to send a reporter and a photographer to spend a week with us and to write an article for the Home Mission Magazine.  When I got off of the phone I realized that the magazine was sent free of charge to every Southern Baptist pastor and Missionary around the world.  I saw then that our light was going to shine.  About two years later I was called to serve on the Federal Grand Jury in Tampa.  While I was there one night I was readying a non-denomination Christian magazine.  I was reading an article about a pastor in New Zealand.  He talked about how he read an article in a magazine about a Christian Social Service Ministry and was led by God to start a similar ministry where he was pastor.  After I read the article I went back to look at the pictures.  To my surprise three of the four pictures in his article were from our ministry in Florida.  You never know what God is going to do in and through you, or what impact it will have. 

Another time I got a call from the Palm Beach Atlantic College in West Palm Beach.  They were having a January class on Christian ministriess and wanted to send a group of students to spend a week with us.  They came and I had the pleasure of teaching them while they were there.

God’s Spirit Moves–A Word Of Knowledge:

After I had been at this church for a few years the Spirit really began to do things in our church.  One Sunday a lady came forward.  She was having pain in her shoulder and neck.  She said that she had taken things for the pain but it wouldn’t go away.  She asked me to pray for her to be healed.  I layed hands on her but God wouldn’t let me.  I was waiting on the Lord and received a word of knowledge.  I said, “May, open your eyes and look at me”.  I said, “You are having problems with someone aren’t you”.  She said, “How did you know”.  I said, “The Lord just told me”.  I told her that God said the pain was caused because of the stress she was under and that if she would do her best to correct the problem that the pain would go away.  I got a call the next day and May said, “I did what you said and I can’t say when the pain left but I realized that it was gone”.

God’s Spirit Moves–A Woman Is Healed:

One Sunday morning during the invitation a woman comes forward and asked me to prayer for her to be healed.  She had a problem with arthritis and it was painful.  I asked if she believed that God could heal her and she said, “Yes”.  I asked her if she believed that God could heal her right now and she said, “Yes”.  So I told her that I would pray for her.  I laid hands on her and as I began to pray I felt a power building in my body and passing through my hands into her body.  She began to cry and say thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus over and over.  I asked her to tell the church what God had done for her and she did.  I had never had this experience before and wanted God to confirm it.  I searched the scriptures and read where Jesus knew that virtue (power) had gone out of him.  On Thursday of that week I went to this woman’s home.  As we talked I asked her if she had been having any more pain and she said, “No”.  I said, “When I was praying for you on Sunday did you feel anything”?  She said, “It was like some power came from your hands and went throughout my whole body”.  God had confirmed what happened by two witnesses; his word and this woman.

God’s Spirit Moves–A Son Is Saved:

God layed on my heart Luke 14:13-14.  “When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the dead”.  So I led the church to provide a meal for the people who came to the Social Service Ministry for help.  We invited everyone who came to the ministry for a month to come to church on the last Saturday of that month for a free meal.  We had a lot of people to come.  The people of our church met them and were blessed because of this act of love.  That Saturday night I told Gary, “Brother, pray for me because God has laid two portions of scriputre and two messages on my heart and I don’t know which one he wants me to preach on Sunday morning”.  I didn’t tell Gary what the scriptures were or the content of the message that the Lord had laid on my heart.  Sunday morning came and he saw me before Sunday School.  He said, “Brother, have you heard from the Lord”?  I said, “No, keep praying”.  After Sunday School he asked me again and I said, “No, keep praying”.  The choir sang their special song and started down to be seated in the congregation.  Gary, came to me and said, “Brother, the Lord has given me something to share with the church”.  I said, “Go ahead”.  Gary picked up my Bible, opend it, and began to read.  He read one of the scriptures that the Lord had laid on my heart.  I said to the Lord, “Thank you Lord, I know what you want me to preach now”.  Gary began to talk and went to preaching.  He covered every point the Lord had laid on my heart to share.  I just sat there in amazement.  When Gary finished, I told the church what had happened and said, “The message has been preached and there is nothing for me to do but give the invitation.  The church began to sing the invitational Hymn as I stood down front to receive anyone who came forward.  I saw some movement in the back where the youth usually sat and as I looked over there, I saw my son Matt coming forward.  When he arrived down front I asked him, “Matt what are you doing down here”?  He said, “The Lord says it is time for me to get saved”.  We prayed and he received Christ as his Savior.  You see my boys thought a lot of Gary.  If I had preached that message Matt might not have listened.  But since Gary was preaching it he listened.  In the scripture I mentioned above about feeding the poor, God said and you shall be blessed.  Indeed I was blessed.

God Spirit Moves–A Woman Was Healed:

Ond day I was sitting in my office and the secretary comes in.  She goes in her office and shortly she walks into my office.  She says that she wants me to pray for her.  She had gone to the doctor and x-rays showed both main arteries in her neck had major blockage.  He was going to have to opperate.  We prayed and she went back to have further x-rays done.  There was no blockage in either artery.  The doctor said, “I can’t explain this”.  She told him, “I can explain it”.  She told him about our prayer.  He was going to a doctors convention in California and asked if he could take her before and after x-rays with him.

Our Church Services Were Transformed:

When I first went to this church everyone knew exactly what was going to happen and when it was going to happen.  Before I left we never knew what was going to happen or when.  We of course planned our services but the Holy Spirit was in charge.  Just like Gary preaching that Sunday morning as I mentioned above.  I had taught the people that when the Spirit is moving you needed to respond at that time.  One Sunday morning during the singing a woman came forward and came up on the platform to where I was sitting.  We went in an adjoining room and talked and prayed and came back to the service.  One time I started teaching about faith on Wednesday nights.  It was not just the content of the teaching but also the way the Lord had me to teach it that got the people stirred up.  Some of them would get my notes ahead of time and call other pastors to ask different questions.  When they came on Wednesday nights they had their guns loaded so to speak.  The Lord always gave me the answers to their questions and statements.  It was a rewarding experience.  Most of the time in churches people come in and talk about everything except spiritual things.  During that study however I would come into the sacntuary and there would be people gathered together in groups with Bibles open and reading and studying before the service ever started. 

***To Be Continued***