God gives heart transplants. I remember the marvelous changes that took place in my life. As a Christian, I’ve laughed infinitely more than I’ve ever laughed before, but I’ve also cried more than I’ve ever cried. Yesterday morning, as I was reading the scriptures about the birth of our Lord, and I thought in my own family of the good news we got just this week of the impending birth of a new grandchild in our family. It’s still eight months away, but are we ever excited about it. And as I sat there thinking about that beautiful gift of that precious life that was in my daughter-in-law’s womb, my eyes just filled with tears of gratitude.
I’ve been to funerals of Christians and I’ve been to funerals of non-Christians. The difference in the anticipation, the joy, the excitement is so dramatically different. I struggle with the preacher who is preaching for a person who is lost and how he has to struggle to find something nice to say. Those who’ve known the Lord, you know when they come out and say, “We know that he or she is infinitely better off today. What a tremendous comfort that is.”
So many things have happened—I remember two years after my conversion, I was out in the swimming pool again and I was looking up into the heavens and as I did, my son was there and he and I was sitting on the side talking. And all of a sudden I said, “Son, look there’s another shooting star.” And my nine-year-old boy said, “Aw Dad, that wasn’t a shooting star. That was a roman candle.” And I said, “No boy. I was looking at it. It was a shooting star.” He said, “Dad, I was looking at it too. It was a roman candle.” And I said, “Well boy, your eyes are lots younger than mine and I’m going to let you rule this time that it was a roman candle, but it sure looked like a shooting star to me.” And then he got awfully quiet and he looked at me and he said, “You know Dad, two years ago at your moment of need, that star that you saw falling had left its orbit 1000’s and 1000’s of years earlier. And a perfect God timed it so that it would appear at your exact moment of need.”
I said it before. My boy’s a smart boy. But he ain’t that smart. You see God again, was manifesting himself in so many different ways. I well remember—in those days we didn’t have the corporate structure we have today, and I kinda ran almost a one-person outfit. We simply paid our expenses and then billed the companies back for it. And I remember one week and the Redhead had written the check for the tithe, and I looked at her and I said, “Gretchen, I didn’t know we made that much money this week.” She said, “Yeah, we had a good week.” And I said, “Wonderful!” Then I thought for a couple of minutes and I said, “Now wait a minute! You know, I was all over the country this week and you didn’t deduct all of the airfare!” She said, “No, I sure didn’t.” She hesitated just for a moment and then she smiled and she said, “Honey, let’s just leave it like it is, we can’t out-give God.”
So true. You can not out-give God. I want to be very careful to say this, I’m just so grateful it’s true. Our tithes today and our gifts are substantially more than we were earning before I became a Christian. My taxes are dramatically more than I was earning when I committed my life to Christ. And I want to say this so very carefully because not for one moment do I want you to ever get the idea that when you become a Christian, God is going to bless you financially. The idea that you can name it and claim it is an absolute abomination to the Lord. The idea that you’re broke because you’re faith is not strong enough is absolute heresy. It simply is not true. I know so many Christians, including my mother–strongest Christian that I ever knew in my life and she never had a dime in her life. God doesn’t mind you being prosperous; particularly if you use it for His glory. But God will give to you what is best for you. Money might be the worst thing on earth for you, but He will bless you according to what is best for you.
I close with this example. When I committed my life to Christ, my number one objective was to have each member of my family—children, brothers, sisters—everybody in the Kingdom. These were the ones I loved the most. I immediately started witnessing to and trying to live in a way that they would be attracted to the benefits of Christianity now. See a lot of people don’t realize is, that as a Christian, even as a churchgoer, you will live five- and seven-tenths years longer than a non-churchgoer. You have fifty-five percent less chance of having a one-car accident and sixty percent less chance of having a fatal heart attack. There are some mal-benefits.
There are some other benefits that go along with it. My greatest benefit I believe has been in the world of relationship. I always thought I loved that red-head of mine. The kids used to always call us the lovebirds. But until I learned to love her, through Christ, I did not know what love was all about. We’re infinitely closer today after 47 years of marriage than we’ve ever been. We talk more. We laugh more. We do more. We have more in common. We grow closer by the day.
God has opened my eyes and my heart in so many different ways, folks, it just makes such a big difference. One by one, each member of my family came into the Kingdom, with the exception of my oldest daughter. She was quote “an intellectual.” A lot of it just didn’t make any sense to her. She could see how excited I was. She could changes in me, “But Dad, you’ve always been excited about a whole lot of things;” and she kind of thought that it was a passing fancy.
When you can only witness so much, even to your own child, and after a period of time, you know I really grew a little discouraged. And then one day, the Lord whispered to me—and I want to emphasize a point there too. In 99 and nine-tenths percent of the cases, God speaks to me through His Bible. There have been about five instances in the years I’ve known him where I felt so—His presence was so real—that I felt that He was audibly speaking to me and obviously He was impressing my mind. But God mostly speaks to me through His Bible, but it seemed on this occasion that God whispered, “Why don’t you write her a book?” And I very quickly said, “Alright Lord, we will write her a book.” Every word, every phrase, every verse of scripture, every example, every illustration, every prayer in Confessions of a Happy Christian was put in there with the hope and prayer that it would be instrumental in bringing my daughter to Christ.
Well, in the meantime, she had gotten involved with an organization which had a strong witnessing Christian. And he started talking about Christ. In the meantime also, she had gotten married. And one day she told me, you know, that she was in church and oh, that really tickled me. But when my book came out, you know, and I gave it to her as I did to all the other members of the family, and one by one they were saying, “Oh Dad, it really is a great book.” And I just couldn’t wait for my oldest daughter, but she never opened the book. A couple of Sundays later, she and her husband were seated in our den. And as we talked, I felt God’s Spirit moving and I said, “Are you two ready to commit your lives to Christ.” My son-in-law said, “Well, I already have.” And I looked at my daughter and said, “And what about you sweetheart?” She said, “No Daddy. I’m just not ready.” It really broke my heart because, you see, the Bible says when the Holy Spirit beckons, you must respond because there’s no guarantee that he will beckon again.
And so it really bothered me and yet, I felt that I could go no further. And I didn’t. Eight days later, on Monday night, I was doing a seminar here in Dallas. My son-in-law works with me. He went down and had the display of the books and the tapes there. My son had decided to go with me that night and my daughter went also. When it was all over and I had finished bidding everybody a good night, and my son and son-in-law were loading the books and tapes back in the car, my daughter was standing in the back and I walked back to her and she put her arms around me and she said, “Thank you Daddy, for finding Jesus Christ when you did. Because had you not found Him then, I would not know Him now.”
I grabbed her and I hugged her and I kissed her and I spanked her and I cried. And I hugged her and kissed her and I spanked her again and I cried some more. And we had made an agreement with my son and son-in-law that we were going to meet down in the coffee shop and have a bowl of soup. She and I walked on down. We took our seats. I sat here, she on my left. My son-in-law came in and sat down right in front of me and my son on my right. My son sat down, and I looked at him. And I said, “Son, guess who Susie knows.” He looked startled just for a moment. And then his little eyes filled with tears. He bowed his head and he wept.
You parents, who have had the privilege of knowing Christ and leading your children to Christ, know the unspeakable joy that I felt. We got home, we walked in the front door; the Redhead was all the way across the room—and for the benefit of the visitors, when I keep saying the Redhead, I’m obviously talking about my wife—she was all the way across the room; when we walked in before anybody said a word, she said, “Susie knows the Lord, doesn’t she.” And I said, “Yes. She’s safe. She’s safe.”
The question is, do you know the Lord? It’s a given that all of us are going to die. I believe with all of my heart that heaven is a real place, that hell is a real place. We will go, by our choice to one of them. And I say by our choice because, you see, God’s voted for you, Satan’s voted against you. And the deciding vote is going to be yours.
First, let me thank you for listening to my testimony. I encourage you actually to listen to it again, maybe several more times because there is a great deal to it. I sincerely hope, that by now you’ve made a decision to make the most important decision you could ever make. And that is to invite Jesus Christ into your life and remember you have everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose in this process.
Let me remind you that if everything I’ve said is completely untrue, but you believe it, you really have nothing to lose. But if everything I say is true, and you don’t believe it, then you have lost everything.
With that in mind, and if you happen to be riding down the highway listening to this, I encourage you to simply pull to the side of the road and quietly bow your head. Close your eyes, there’s nothing significant really in closing your eyes except that it is a sign of submission, of trust. You can’t see what’s going on because your eyes are closed. But that trust in Christ is so important.
Now if you’re ready, simply, in your own mind, you can either silently pray this or even better, repeat these words out loud: “Dear Lord, I confess that I am a sinner. And I know that I can not save myself. So Lord, I ask you to forgive me of my sins, and I’m going to what you told me to do in Romans 10:9. I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord. I believe in my heart that God raised him from death. And Lord, you told me that if I did that, I’d be saved. So in faith, that’s exactly what I’m doing. You told me in Ephesians 2:8-9 that it is by grace—that’s the unmerited favor of God, I don’t deserve it, but you give it to me because you love me—it is by grace and my faith in you that I will be saved. That I won’t be saved because of my works because if I could save myself, I just might boast. So Lord, it’s trusting in you that will give me that salvation. And so Lord, I confess that you are my Lord. Invite me into your heaven Lord. And I am now secure in that knowledge, that I am saved. And, oh Lord, I’m so grateful for that.
Now at this moment, you might not quote “feel different.” Some do, some don’t. But let me assure you that you’re not saved by your feelings. You’re saved by hearing and believing the word of God. And that’s exactly what you’ve been hearing.
My friend, you are saved. If you prayed in your heart the prayer we just voiced, and you and God are the only two who know whether it was in your heart or not; now I encourage you, study your Bible, get involved in a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church, and enjoy the benefits of your salvation now. And may God bless you richly for this most important commitment and decision.
Now let me simply say this. If you have prayed to accept Christ, I’d like to take a few more minutes to share with you how you can continue your spiritual journey, in other words—how can you keep it going, how can you maintain this excitement and enthusiasm in this faith of yours. Well first of all let me say that the Bible will keep you out of sin or sin will keep you out of the Bible. In other words, you need to get in God’s word and learn what God has to say. I urge you, if you haven’t got one, get one. I also encourage you to find a Bible-teaching church and attend there on a regular basis. There might be some discouraged people there you can encourage and you will be encouraged by going to such a church. I want to encourage you also to pray to God frequently, be open and honest with Him. He is interested in every aspect of your life—remember, He does have a tremendous amount invested in you. There are no secrets from God; He’s not surprised at anything you say or do.
I also encourage you to take the initiative and tell others about your decision to follow Christ. A lot of people will unfortunately say, “Well, you know, I’ll let my life be my story or my witness or whatever.” Well let me emphasize a point—Christ lived the perfect life. And He performed all those miracles and yet He always verbalized the importance of faith in God. I encourage you to do exactly the same thing. As you get involved in your Christian faith, as you start your walk, let me also say that if you have already committed your life to Christ, it’s important for you to call Life Story and tell them about that decision. Now, from my perspective, I’m a professional speaker and an author, but let me say that my first priority is my relationship with Christ. The things I’ve talked about today are extremely important. I want you to know that God really cares for you and He cares for me. He’s interested in our spiritual walk and God bless you with your spiritual walk with our Lord.