Devotions

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Pastor Randy “Doc” Johnson | 
Growth Pastor

My story begins before I was born.  My parents were not raised in Christian homes.  My mom and her sister were “bus kids.”  Her parents did not take them to church but allowed them to attend on their own.  They both heard the Good News of Jesus Christ and gave their lives to Him.  My dad became a follower of Jesus Christ in his late teens when he attended a Billy Graham crusade and heard the Gospel.  A bus driver and Billy Graham are equally important in my story.

Even though my parents were not raised in a Christian home, they figured it out.  I was raised in a loving, Christ-honoring home.  We went to First Baptist Church of Hazel Park for Sunday School, the Sunday morning service, the Sunday evening service, Wednesday night prayer meeting, and as I grew older all camps and youth events.  It did not feel forced or awkward.  It was what we did.  We even had family devotions and prayer each morning before school.

There is an important side note to my story.  My aunt who was a “bus kid” with my mom, married a Christian man.  Their mom, my grandmother, later became a follower of Christ.  They were all very close.  So my mom and dad built a house right across the street from my grandmother, and my aunt and uncle built right next to them.  We had our Christian community just south of 9 Mile.

At age seven, just after morning family devotions, I prayed “asking Jesus into my heart.”  I was not baptized until I was twelve.  My parents wanted to make sure I understood that baptism did not save me and that it was to be a stepping up point telling others of my desire to follow Jesus.  When I was in high school, our church hired a new Youth Pastor, Dave Hulbert.  Pastor Dave, or Radar as we called him, became a dear friend for me.  We spent a lot of time together.  It was at this point I realized God was calling me to be a Pastor.

I hear people say they had a “drug” problem – they were “drug” to every Church event and became bitter.  I did not experience that.  I am thankful for my parents and my Church family.  I even met Angela at church.  We were high school sweethearts from Youth Group.  It does not get much better than that.

A verse that has challenged and encouraged me is 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”  I hope my story will help you to daily choose to follow Jesus for yourself and your family.

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Eric Jeffrey | 
Children’s Director

In January of 2002, I made a conscious decision to let Christ take over my life and be my Lord and Savior. This is the testimony of the work the Holy Spirit did before that day.

I grew up in the Catholic Church, I went to Catholic school, I was an altar boy, and my parents were active in the school and the church. I participated in all the sacraments – baptism, communion, first communion, first confession, and confirmation.  Let me be clear, I was a willing participant in these activities, but mostly because my parents and the church told me this is what I was supposed to do, so I did.

Going to Catholic school and church, I was taught many things about God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus; however, it was taught from a catechism book, not the Holy Bible. I never saw a Bible in church or school, we had one at home, but I believe it was hidden, and we never opened it. I remember exactly what it looked like to this day. The thing I took away from the experience with church, looking back, was that if you do this, this, and this you will be forgiven and go to Heaven when it is time. I was never taught salvation through Jesus Christ being the only way to Heaven. In retrospect, though, I believe it was the foundation of a greater work God was going to do.

In eighth grade, my family moved from the city of Detroit to the suburbs of Novi. My parents connected with the local Catholic church, and we continued our weekly visitations to church. As most teens do, I became self-aware that I am my own person and began to question all authority – parental, educational, and spiritual. At some point, I do not remember exactly when my parents informed me that when I turn 16 that it would be my responsibility to get to church since I could drive and hold down a job. So when I hit the age of accountability, I stopped going to church except on Christmas and Easter. This was only to appease my parents.

After that, I soon began to explore drugs and alcohol and began a serious relationship with both. For many years I abused all kinds of drugs and decided alcohol was not my thing. My drug use was habitual and constant. I did it responsibly (sounds weird) by going to school and holding down various jobs to support my habit. Later on, I married, and even sooner I was divorced because I wanted my relationship with drugs more than anything. The ink on the divorce papers was not even dry before I was abusing more than ever. All the while I can remember thinking about God from time to time and thinking, “I am a good person, I have not killed anyone plus I am Catholic.”

Then I began a relationship with my current wife, Diane, of 17 years. I am not sure what she saw in me but, we became an item. I continued my drug use; then I had some sort of revelation. This lifestyle is getting me nowhere. With the encouragement of Diane (wife now), I quit drugs. I began to pursue higher education, landed a new career, and boom I was on my way. One thing, though, I still did not feel right in some unexplainable way. We moved onto a lake and built a house together and got married in it. The accomplishment of building your house was a great experience, but still, something was missing.

After we had settled into the new house, a man that lived kitty corner from us came over and introduced himself. He would be the man that would lead me to Christ.   His name was Jack Russell. This was soon after the events of September 11, 2001. He began to witness to me regularly, and I would say to him, “I am good. I am Catholic. I got it covered.” We played floor hockey together so he would drive us to and from and use it as an opportunity witness and invite me to his church. I spoke to my wife about going, and she was in agreement, so we went to Faith Baptist Church. I went and enjoyed the speaking of the pastor (Pastor Jim). Soon after we joined a Bible study seven steps to joy, taught by Jack because I felt the need to learn the Bible, not religion. After about the second or third lesson, I felt so lost. I was just not getting it. I was reading the lessons and doing the questions, but I just did not get it.  I wanted to, but it seemed like I could not grasp it. Jack shared some Scriptures with me. 1 Corinthians 2:14, Ephesians 2:8-9, and the power of God’s Holy Word began to penetrate my spirit and changed me from the inside out. Jack continued relentlessly to pound me with God’s Word full of truth and love. On January 13, 2002, I bent my knee on the steps in the auditorium at Faith Baptist Church and asked Christ to enter my life and thankfully I was never the same. The odd thing about that day was that I told Jack during the week that I would come to church Sunday and make a profession of faith. In my mind, I was thinking, “I will have to do this (profess Christ) just to get this guy off my back about Jesus.” The Lord truly works in mysterious ways.

Today I have the privilege of teaching kids the Word of God at the same church where I gave my life to Christ. I am thankful for the people God placed in my life that encouraged me to make a decision to follow Christ. This is the testimony of Jesus Christ’s work in the life of this man, Eric M Jeffrey.

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Wes McCullough | 
Worship Leader

When I say I have gone to church my whole life, I mean it. When I was born, my parents took me from the hospital straight to church where they prayed over and dedicated me.

Here is my life in a nutshell:

  • Both parents are believers and lifetime attendees of church
  • I accepted Christ at a very young age and rededicated my life as a teen
  • I have attended church nearly every weekend of my life
  • I have been serving in the church since I was 14 years-old
  • No alcohol, tobacco, drugs, profanity, or sex before marriage

At first glance, my testimony can seem plain, boring, or dull. Hearing a powerful testimony of total life change from sin to salvation can make me think mine is nothing to brag about. A better way to think of my testimony is not salvation OUT of a wicked life but FROM a wicked life completely. I am not claiming to be without sin, but a life of alcohol, drugs, sexual impurity, and lawlessness is one I have never known firsthand. Christian parents raising me with morality and respectfulness, compounded by my shy nature has protected me from making decisions that would send my life spiraling out of control.

God’s mercy has allowed me to understand choice and consequence. I have always focused on the negatives that alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity have on one’s life.  By the grace of God, I have never been tempted by those things. One verse that has always helped is Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” I have always wanted to be my own person. Be it the partying lifestyle or fashion; I only ever wanted to be me. My duty as a Christian is not to mirror the ways of man but to reflect the image of Christ.

I share my story with humility. I do not think myself better than any other sinner saved by grace. The truth is, hearing of someone who has hit rock bottom and been saved by God is inspiring to someone like me. I hope my testimony is likewise inspiring to them. I want my testimony to be confirmation that God can save you BEFORE you turn the wrong way as well as after. I encourage you to proudly share of God’s grace in your life no matter when it happened.

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Brett Eberle | 
Tech Assistant

For a good portion of my life, I have struggled with people asking me to share my testimony. Who wants to hear a story of some kid who has been in church his whole life? I certainly did not. For years I wondered what it would have been like to have found God on the side of the road when I was at rock bottom, to have had that complete life-altering shift that comes when you first begin to walk with God. It was not until I sat down to write this that I realized that my testimony is amazing, it is the story of how I took my first steps with God.

I have been blessed with many godly role models throughout my life, but my salvation is mainly because of three amazing people. The first comes as a pair, and it may be cliché, but it is my parents. As I sit here and write this, I am almost twenty-four years old, and I have never seen my parents fight. Throughout my life, they have shown me what a godly home and godly life is supposed to look like.

The third person that played a large part in my salvation is a lady by the name of Barb. Growing up both of my parents had full-time jobs, and that meant that my brother and I had to go to a babysitter, Barb was that babysitter. If we are honest, she was way more like a grandma to me than a babysitter. Barb was also my Sunday School teacher, and it was in a small windowless room in the basement of the church that we attended where Barb walked me through the Bible explaining what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

I am proud of my testimony, and I thank God everyday that I do not know what it means to hit rock bottom. I have stumbled and ran into what felt like brick walls along the way, but nothing can take away the memory of that lady kneeling down at a tiny kids table praying with me and for me.

Sharables – Testimony

Sharable – Testimony
Pastor Trevor Cole 

Nearly from the moment I was born, my parents began taking me to church. At that time, most churches had services on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night and we were at each one, every week. I had three brothers and no matter how much we complained or gave excuses; we knew where would end up on those days, it might just hurt to sit down more if we complained too much. So you could say that I grew pretty familiar with the routine. 

Something changed in that routine one week when I was around five years old. Our pastor painted a vivid picture of the pain and separation from God that would happen to those who do not put their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. I still remember that fear and how it brought me to my dad that night. I went to him and asked him if our pastor was telling the truth, and he showed me in the Bible that he was not lying. My dad led me in a simple prayer where I told God I believed that Jesus died for my sins and I asked for God’s forgiveness.

I wish I could tell you that I never told another lie, never disobeyed my parents again, but that would be another lie on the list. I do believe that it started me on a journey of change, though. Throughout those formative years, I remember multiple times where I lost my way and started living for myself instead of God. It made me question whether I believed in this Jesus that I gave my life to and whether or not those memories of praying with my father were real. But every time I humbled myself and asked for His forgiveness, God drew me back to Him.

It is my belief that too many people want to point at a date when they prayed a prayer or walked down a church aisle as an assurance that they are all set in their relationship with God. In those times of struggle over the years I had to remind myself that even if my memory fails me and I ca not remember the details or the prayer I prayed, that is not what saves me. As Ephesians 2:8-9 says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” It is not “do I remember if I prayed a prayer” but “do I believe, TODAY, which Jesus died on the cross and rose again victorious over death to cover my sin? Am I seeing God change me from the inside out? Not that I am perfect or never make mistakes, but can I look back and see the difference He is making in me?”

No matter your personal journey or how long you have been a follower of Jesus, it can become just a routine. Along the way, you will be tempted to leave the path. Don not just point at a date as a golden ticket to Heaven and go off on your way. I hope that you will regularly examine your life and ask God to make your faith living and real.



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