TESTIMONIES FROM FRIENDS OF HEARTWISE
We hope these testimonies provide hope and inspiration to people who are seeking comfort. Everyone is on a journey and has a unique story. We pray that your journey is filled with joy and peace that comes through a relationship with Christ. If you have a testimony, please contact us. We would love to share it!
I was reading this morning in Jude, and Jude 1:1-2 “…To Those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” Spoke to me. I felt moved to write my thoughts and then to share them with you. I hope the thought of beloved in God and kept for Jesus is the blessing in your life that it is in mine.
Am I truly called beloved in God? What an awesome thought, God thinks I’m beloved. My mind is having difficulty surmounting the thought that God calls me His beloved. If God thinks this, I must be. I can’t be, it is impossible for me to be anything else. There is no way I can even contemplate that I am not His beloved. If I can constantly be cognizant of this, surrounded by the thought of being God’s beloved, just think of the difference it makes in my life. It will not really matter in my soul, in my innermost being, what happens around and to me for I am God’s beloved.
Not only am I His beloved, and I can’t believe there could possibly be more, but He is keeping me for Jesus. As I contemplate the thought of being kept for Jesus, it also gives me a sense of belonging. I must belong to Jesus. If I belong to Jesus that must mean that His sacrifice on the cross was for me and I am saved because I am the beloved of God and He is keeping me for Jesus.
In my heart do I truly believe that I am beloved of God? The only way this idea, this fact, this becomes a reality in my life, becomes a part of me, is that I come to grips with it. Being beloved means that God wants, no that is too weak of a thought, God desires, He yearns, nay, He is dying, no, He has died to spend time with me. He has made the ultimate sacrifice for me. Now the question becomes, not if I am beloved of God, but is He the beloved of me? Have I accepted His sacrifice, the death of Jesus, His Son. Am I allowing myself to be Jesus’? Do I notice that I am possessed by Jesus? Have I taken that step? It begins with just one step and then each step takes me further into a journey with Him. Am I allowing Him to be on the journey with me? This means time spent in the journey of life where I realize who is with me and actually see God there beside me, in me, taking me to Jesus, keeping me for Him.
He is taking me to Jesus! He is keeping me for Jesus! Praise God! I do not have to do this, God has done it for me for I am His beloved, He calls me His Beloved and is keeping me for Jesus to claim when He comes back to get me. Not quietly, like a thief in the night, but openly with the blasts of trumpet where every eye will see Him coming, coming in the clouds of glory, just for me!
Author, Glenda Davidson, RN MSN
Heart disease, known as “the silent killer”, is named so because most of the time we are totally unaware that the problem even exists. It develops so slow that often the subtle signs and symptoms just get rationalized away or blamed on other causes. Human nature leads many, like me, into living in pure denial that a problem even exists, even though we are totally aware that something is painfully wrong. We often need the help of a specialist, in my case a heart doctor, who will diagnose our problem and then come up with a plan of treatment. Without help, we will just end up like most, where death comes to us before treatment could even be started. At the age of 37, I found out that I was suffering from terminal heart disease and this story is about how my Cardiologist diagnosed and treated my problem and left me forever changed.
I was raised in a very conservative Christian home always eating clean meats and worshiping on the day that God set aside for us. I don’t remember how old I was when I was baptized, I think around nine or ten. My mom and dad always gave my sisters and me spiritual guidance and encouragement. My parents didn’t smoke or drink and a cuss word was never heard coming out of their mouths. My father was a hard-working man who would work full-time as a carpenter and then would come home and work on building our family a 5,000 sq .ft. house. He traveled long hours to and from work, which left very little time for me unless I was helping him build our house. I hated working with him due to his perfectionist personality and horrible temper. My mother was the loving nurturer in the family who worked full-time as a nurse, as well as a full-time caretaker of mentally and/or physically handicapped people in our home.
As I grew older, somehow my father’s perfectionist personality and bad temper became a part of me. I constantly battled a feeling of never being good enough and anger raged inside of me. I was never happy or content inside. I remember my parents sitting me down as a teenager and expressing their concern over my temper and their fear that I would end up killing someone someday and spending the rest of my life in jail. Instead of admitting I had a problem, all I could do was look at my dad and think, who was he to lecture me on having a temper. I gave road rage a new meaning and left my wife and anyone else scared to death to ride with me. I once attempted to correct a man’s bad habit by pulling him through the window of his car and the worst was having a man pull a gun on me while driving down a two lane highway with nothing between us except my wife and my unborn daughter.
Everything I did I wanted to be the best at. It didn’t matter what it was. When I was in the gym, I was determined that, pound for pound, nobody was going to out-lift me. When I was drinking and doing drugs, nobody was going to out-party me. When I got married I expected my wife to be perfect and dealt with my frustration or disappointment by yelling at her or putting her down. When my children came along, guess what? They got more of the same. The sad but true thing in all of this was that while all this was going on, I was attending church just about every week. I was a deacon in my church and felt I knew scripture pretty well. I could argue doctrinal issues with the best of them. Probably like so many attending church today, my salvation or security was based on my knowledge of doctrinal issues. I or my church was right and everyone else was wrong. As Christians, it is our job to get all the other Christians in our box or they will be lost. I found it difficult to love people of other denominations because they were wrong. I was brought up being critical of the food people ate, their style of worship, the day they worshiped on, as well as hundreds of other things. I was good at pointing out the wrong in everyone else and didn’t see myself as even having a problem.
One day my business partner asked me if I would like to go to a revival with him at his church. I was kind of hesitant at first, but decided to go as a number of our patients would be there and his brother-in-law (also a patient) would be the one preaching. I called home to tell my wife that I would not be coming home due to attending the revival and we decided it would be best for me to forgo the hour and a half drive home so late and just stay at my partners’ house. We hurried to finish up with patients that evening in order to make it to church on time. My mind raced, contemplating what a revival was all about.
I remember walking into the little old country church I had heard so many stories about over the years. Song service had started and as we walked in it seemed like all eyes were on me. My critical mind started studying everything. The church was much smaller than the one I attended and the pews lacked padding. I couldn’t figure out why a group of men were sitting in pews on one side of the pulpit and a group of women on the other. The hymns they were singing were nothing I had ever heard in church but, I will always remember the power of the people singing. I’m not sure if there were even 80 people there that night, but their song service blew away what 400 people did in my church. Coming from a musically challenged family, I found it difficult to sing songs I had never heard before. My buddy handed me their version of a hymnal which was a red or blue paperback book. It obviously helped me with the words but I had no idea when to go high or low. I was thankful the singing was so powerful, as nobody could have possibly heard what I was doing to their songs.
When the song service ended, a man came to the pulpit to call the church to pray. I knelt as the congregation knelt and the entire church began to pray out loud and I mean it got loud. I found myself listening to see if I could understand what the people were saying. I had an opinion on speaking in tongues and wasn’t sure what to think of it all. I could understand what the people around me were saying. They were just praying out loud and all at the same time. I thought,” Lord, we don’t pray this way. I’ve never heard anything like this. What is the deal with this?” The prayer of one man went on and on while everyone waited for him to finish before sitting back down. The preacher then stood up and approached the pulpit with his bible in his hand and shared how the Lord had laid a burden on his heart to preach on a specific text. I don’t remember the text, but I do remember finding it odd that he had no notes or sermon to read. He prayed, opened his Bible, read the text, and started to preach.
I found myself becoming critical again, as his preaching was nothing like I’d ever seen or heard. It was like something came over him and I could hardly understand what he was saying. He paced the floor and even got to the point where he had to take his suit jacket off. I felt winded watching him. All I could do is ask the Lord to help me stop being critical in His house. When he finished preaching, a number of people stood up and gave their testimony based on their feeling that the Lord was calling them to do so. I’ll never forget one man who stood up or should I say I’ll never forget what he said, because it struck me so odd. He said that he had attended church his whole life but hadn’t been saved until just a couple of years previous. He shared how the Lord called him to repent and how he had to go to the altar. He encouraged anyone not to ignore the Spirit’s calling. Criticism began to well-up inside of me again as I had been conditioned what to think when people use the term I GOT SAVED. While fighting those thoughts, the next thing I knew the preacher asked “HAS THE LORD LAID A BURDEN ON ANYONES HEART TO SING HERE TONIGHT?” “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard a preacher say,” was the first thing that came to my mind. We have our special music all planned out ahead of time and printed in a bulletin so everyone knows who is singing. I started looking around to see if someone would actually stand and much to my surprise, it was the lady behind me. She started to sing with no musical accompaniment. To this day I do not remember the song, but I do remember the song getting all over me. Something was stirring in my soul and it made my hair stand up. I’m not sure what her singing sounded like to everyone else, but it sounded like angels to me. Not sure of what was happening inside of me, I kept asking the Lord what was going on. I had never experienced anything like it. I kept asking the Lord; is this You or the devil?
When she finished her song, the preacher stood and made an altar call. I immediately became critical in my spirit because alter calls are never made in my church. As the preacher made his call I felt God’s call on me to go to the altar. My heart rate grew as I kept telling the Lord “no”. “There is nothing wrong with me, this must be of the devil, these people pray weird, I couldn’t understand half of what the preacher said and besides, Lord, these people don’t even keep your Sabbath”. The call got stronger and stronger to the point where it felt like my heart was going to come out of my chest and I was literally hanging on to the pew. I told the Lord if you want to do this to me, do it in my church. Fear of what my father would think rushed into my mind and I finished with a strong “Lord I’m not getting saved in a Baptist church”. The burden to go to the altar slowly left and the service ended. My mind whirled and the burden of not going forward pounded me as we left the little church.
I remember vividly getting into my friend’s truck to go eat at his in-laws house. A feeling I could not explain to anyone permeated me and all I could tell my buddy was “I feel strange”. All through dinner the feeling never left and as luck would have it the two men sitting at the table were the head deacon and the preacher himself. I was ashamed to tell anyone what had happened. I just kept going over the events of the evening in my mind.
Reaching my partner’s house, I headed for my room. I just wanted to be alone. The burden of ignoring God’s call haunted me. I kept trying to figure it all out. I kept mulling over all the weird things about their church service in an attempt to justify my lack of heeding God’s call, but all I knew for sure was that the Lord wanted me to go to the altar. I told the Lord in the church that there was nothing wrong with me and he proceeded to show me different. Unable to sleep, I crawled out of the bed and prayed until daylight, asking the Lord to give me a second chance to get my heart right with Him. I felt as lost as anyone could possibly feel. After showering, I headed downstairs to find my buddy putting his shoes on. He looked at me funny, probably because my eyes looked like they were bleeding. I told him I couldn’t sleep all night and filled him in on my lack of obedience to God’s call to go to the altar. I told him how I prayed all night long and he chuckled. I didn’t see the humor in it at all. He proceeded to tell me the old timers have a saying for what had happened to me. It had something to do with the Lord messing with your bed sheets and not letting you rest until you do what you are supposed to do. I told him I couldn’t take another night of what I went through and asked if I could go to church with him again that evening. Excited, he said, “Yes” and I called my wife to let her know that I wouldn’t be home again that evening.
I don’t remember much about the entire day other than being exhausted and wanting to finish seeing patients so I could get to the church. I don’t know how many times I told the Lord how sorry I was for not going forward and for being so critical of the church service. I told the Lord I didn’t care what kind of church it was and if He would give me a second chance, I would move and not hang onto the pew. I was ready to run to the altar even if it meant knocking people over.
We reached the church as song service was going again. Sitting down, I grabbed the paperback hymnal and started to sing. As I looked around, it seemed like all eyes were on me. I’m ready Lord! I just wanted to get to the altar call part. The service proceeded in a similar way with the entire church praying out loud. A different preacher was there due to a felt calling to preach. Testimonies were given by different people and different people sang, all as a result of a felt calling by the Lord. I have to admit, I still had to fight a spirit of criticism at times. Everything was just so different from the way things were done all my life. Finally, the invitation came to go to the altar. As the preacher started, all I could think was “I’m ready Lord,” but nothing stirred inside of me. I felt no calling to move. I felt dead inside. I remember thinking, “Lord, I’m willing to go forward just call me please,” – but still nothing. The invitation was given a number of times as the congregation sang, but no call came. A feeling of disappointment filled me and dread of another sleepless night. The revival ended but the burden didn’t.
What seemed like months passed and I awoke to face another long drive to work. It was raining out and rain always added time to my already long trip. Jumping into my F-250 I put a praise CD in the player. Singing for me had to be done in my truck alone. I didn’t even consider torturing my family in the shower. I remember the day like it was yesterday. Forty five minutes into my trip I reached the base of the mountain that I had to go over to reach the town where my office was. The rain began to fall as if the sky had opened up. Barely able to see through the sheet of water falling on the windshield, I plugged along singing praises to the Lord. My thoughts returned to me ignoring God’s calling and how I told Him that there was nothing wrong with me. I began to cry as the Lord let the scales fall from my eyes. He reminded me of my horrible temper that I struggled with all my life and my inability to change it on my own. Then came the minor problem of not being able to talk nice to my wife. She was talking about leaving me and taking my children with her. Next, I was reminded of my drinking problem, or should I say the constant desire to drink, even though I quit. The list went on and on. The more the Lord convicted me of my sin and my need for a savior, the harder I cried. From the depths of my soul I cried out to Jesus to come into my heart and change me and save me. I told Him I was so sick of myself I couldn’t stand it. Like a leopard, I couldn’t change my spots. Between the rain and the crying I couldn’t see anything. I remember wanting to get out of my truck and hit my knees on the side of the road, but didn’t because of fear of what my patients would think when I showed up looking like a sponge. I just kept driving and singing praises to Jesus with my hands raised to heaven.
I’ll never forget the look on my friend’s face when I walked in the back door of our office. With tears running down my face he looked at me and said “Buddy, I’ve been praying for a long time that you would experience God’s grace”. I couldn’t even respond as what was going on inside of me, and the tears, left me totally unable to speak. I don’t remember much about the entire day other than it was very humbling to cry in front of my patients and staff. All I KNEW was God had answered my prayer. I felt different inside and didn’t know what to tell people.
A battle ensued in my mind between what I know happened and what I had been taught in church my whole life. You have to understand that I grew up in a church that teaches to never say that you are saved, I had never seen a preacher make an altar call, being saved was a process over time and not an event that takes place on a particular day in your life and having and following the correct doctrine was what your salvation hinged on. I grew up viewing people who went to church on Sunday as people who really didn’t love Jesus and would be lost because they didn’t care about honoring the day that God himself sanctified and made holy, the Saturday Sabbath of the fourth commandment. I never heard sermons on God calling sinners to repentance and that true repentance is a gift from God that occurs in the very depths of our heart and soul. All I do know is that for the first time in my life, I have a peace about my salvation. God’s grace is the most powerful thing I have ever experienced and has left me forever changed.
I no longer have to fight the desire to drink. I went from a crazy man trying to pull someone out of his car for flashing their high beams at me to someone whose heart rate doesn’t even change when someone cuts me off. NOW THAT’S GOD! Praise the Lord my wife didn’t leave me and said that I went from being someone she couldn’t stand being around to someone she loves being around. I have a genuine love in my heart for my children and a true desire to spend time with them. The Lord also put a love in my heart for my Father and we now have a great relationship. All I know, is that, I can take absolutely no credit for any of these changes. Jesus diagnosed my problem, brought me under conviction about it, gave me the ability to repent, and all praise goes to Him. By His grace, He gave me a new heart. I love Jesus more than I could ever tell anyone and His power goes beyond human understanding. I’m so thankful that my Great Physician did a heart transplant just in the nick of time and I will forever praise Him and serve Him. I’m also thankful for the prayers of a friend and God’s willingness to allow me to experience His grace. And last of all, I’m thankful for all the people in that little old church who taught me how important it is to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and being obedient to whatever God is calling me to do. It is the desire of my heart for the Lord to pour out His Holy Spirit and bring the world under conviction of their sins and their need of a Savior. I pray that He will grant us the gift of true repentance and perform a massive number of heart transplants for His honor and glory. May we all follow the Spirit’s leading and be willing to do our part in working with the Lord for the salvation of His children.
Author, Eric Olsen