I was raised in a Catholic home. My Dad a devout Catholic had raised us in all the traditions of this religion. As a kid I remember disliking going to church with my family on Sunday. The church seemed dark and robotic. The same routine every week, and I never learned anything. My dad put all of us kids through Catholic school so we were all taught the Catholic Catechism. To me God was a task master and I grew to dislike church and the Catholic religion. (Religion in general) It seemed dark, unforgiving, and hopeless. During high school I worked at a pizza place called Pepino’s Pizza. It was there that I met my wife Lori. She was also raised in a Catholic family and had been saved at the age of 15. Her family had just moved to Albuquerque from Pittsfield, MA. (I believe God moved her and gave her to me to get me saved.) Two years later June 4th 1977 we were married against both of our parent’s advice. Much to my Dads disdain we married in a Pentecostal Church Lori was attending.
After we met, Lori would try to tell me about salvation in Jesus Christ and I remember feeling uncomfortable and defensive. I would always tell her that I was a Catholic. As a kid in Catholic Schools I was taught that the Catholic Church was the one true church and that salvation was only possible if you remained a faithful Catholic. She would tell me that it did not matter what church you went to. What mattered, she would tell me, is that you must be born again by having a personal relationship with Jesus. She wanted me to put my faith in Jesus Christ and not the Catholic Church. She would quote John 3:16 “(For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life)”, and try to explain that eternal life was a gift from God and that all that was required for eternal life is for you to put your faith in Jesus. I still resisted her witness and asked her not to talk to me anymore about religion. At the time I guess I feared this was more religion and I still had a bad taste of it from being raised in a devout Catholics home. So she never brought up the subject again, and went to praying for my salvation and looking for the Lord to open up my heart. She too was raised a Catholic and understood my feelings.
About 6 months into our marriage after much discussion between us about our financial situation I joined the Navy. After two years of Navy electronics schools I was transferred to the USS Ranger, and assigned to the 48 air search radar work center. There were three of us. The other two radar technicians were both Christians. What a coincidence you might say. Well, I don’t, I believe God was answering Lori’s prayers to open my eyes to salvation and eternal life. They both began telling me about Jesus and asked me if I knew if I died if I would go to heaven. I think they knew the answer, but they also asked me if I was a Christian. (They knew I was not) I remember asking them somewhat angrily, what do you consider to be a Christian? They told me that a Christian was someone who repented of their way and accepted that they were a sinner and believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and died to save them from their sins. (The same thing Lori had been trying to tell me.) That was the first time I remember the salvation message of the Bible sinking in as they began to explain salvation. Before, this message had just sounded like more religion. I remember stating for the first time to them that I believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he died for my sins and that I believed he was raised from the dead. Romans 10:9 states, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” For the first time in my life, I began to study and understand the Bible. I am so glad that God did not give up on me after my resisting Lori’s attempt to witness to me. I am so glad these two co-workers were Christians and witnessed to me.
My conversion to Jesus Christ was not some momentary ecstatic emotional experience in time that you hear about on some TV evangelical shows, but a slow gradual understanding of who Jesus was and what God had done for us through His Son Jesus death on the cross. I did not have a preacher near that could explain every theological aspect of salvation and what it was to be born again. Looking back to that moment on the USS Ranger though I know that I was a changed person and became born again. (A new creation as Paul puts it) I know I got saved after confessing to my friends that I believed in Jesus, that he died for my sins and that he was risen. I remember the Holy Spirit began to give me an understanding of the bible at that point. It was from this point in time that my heart began to change, and I began to let go of my Catholic upbringing (even though I was never a strong Catholic), and turn toward Christ. My Conversion occurred sometime in 1980 when I met those two Christians that God put in my work center and I am still a work in progress, believe me.
I remember I used to resist the witness that Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life, but by 1983 I wanted to find a church and began to search in earnest for one that would teach me more about Jesus and the Bible. I had given up smoking and my desire to drink. I wanted to be a better husband and father. Lori and I have two sons and I had not been the greatest dad to this point. Even the music I listened to and things I wanted to do changed. We found a Bible believing Church in 1983 and have never looked back. My heart had changed toward the things of God and Lori's prayers had been answered. I was born again. I was a new creation with new desires. I was challenged by one preacher in our first church to follow my belief in Jesus by being baptized. I asked him to show me where the Bible teaches following belief and trust in Christ with Baptism. When he showed me that this was scripturally based, I obeyed Gods will, and was baptized.
One of the fruits of true conversion (Not religion) is a new desire to please and obey God. Baptism is the first step. Another fruit is the Word of God comes alive and we desire to read it. Since then I have always said, if the fruit is not there then you are probably dead. (Not born again) I knew I had been Born again because my desire to follow and obey Jesus Christ was there. Now, 38 years later I still desire to grow in Christ. Gods Holy Spirit has kept me on track. (I have never doubted his promise to me of eternal life and to keep me.) I never believed a born again person could lose their salvation. We still sin, and I am still a work in progress, but we love Jesus Christ and want to please him with our lives. A lost person does not desire these things.
My wife Lori has since gone home to be with the Lord. She died in July of 2015 when her breast cancer metastasized to her brain, but I know where she is. I will see her again soon when Jesus I done with me here. I look forward to death. To die is gain. I will always be a work in progress but I know that if I died right now I would go to heaven. I can’t wait to go home to be with my loving savior Jesus Christ who when I was a sinner resisting him gave me this wonderful little wife to share my life with for 40 years. (1975 -2015) He used Lori to save me through her witness for him. Then while I still resisted her witness he answered her prayers and put me in a work place where two other Christians were able to get me to understand salvation in Christ. What a wonderful savior. I am so glad that I finally accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. He has given me a peace that passes all understanding. I truly do look forward to seeing Jesus and hugging my wife Lori again. I have a peace that I will soon.
How about you? Do you understand the simplicity of salvation in Christ Jesus?
Do you understand that you are a sinner that needs to be saved?
Romans 3:23 (KJV) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Will you do what I did and believe in your heart that Jesus died for the sins of the world, and that by trusting in him you can know you have eternal life?
1 John 5:13 (KJV) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
The above verse says you can know you are saved and going to heaven. Just confess with your mouth that you believe Jesus is the son of God and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead and you will be saved. (See below)
Ro 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Ro 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
If you will call on Jesus and ask him to forgive you of your sins and believe that he is risen from the dead you will be saved. Will you call on him today?
Romans 10:13 (KJV) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.