Note: A few years ago, I was asked to share my own personal Christian testimony with a group of believers and their guests at some of their lunch and dinner meetings around the Midwest, and I continue to do this on occasion. Here is a copy of it:
Thank you, it’s an honor to be here with all of you today. I’d like to start off today by sharing a little about my about professional life. I am presently employed with a large regional Bank where I recruit for executive level positions. As you can imagine, I have reviewed countless resumes and cover letters during my career and have seen a lot of mistakes. We know that spell check doesn’t always catch these, and so I’d like to share some of my favorite funny ones with you, or what we who work in Human Resources like to call “job search bloopers.”
Instead of using the word, “ranked,” one salesperson tried to boast that they “Consistently tanked as the top sales producer for new accounts.”
Another claimed that he: “Received a plague for Salesperson of the Year.” He meant to say a Plaque.
One said: “The following is a Grief overview of my skill set.” Of course, they meant to say brief.
Here’s a head scratcher: One person noted in their cover letter: “Please call me after 5:30pm because I am self-employed, and my employer does not know I am looking for another job.”
How about this for an accomplishment: “I was instrumental in ruining an entire operation for a Midwest Retail chain operation.” (they meant to say running).
In response to the famous question: Reason for leaving last job? One woman explained: “I was on a maturity leave.” She meant to say Maternity.
One person claimed to be “bi-lingual in three languages.”
Here’s a bad way to end a cover letter: “Thank you for your consideration Mr. McLogan, and I hope to hear from you, shorty.” (I’m six foot one and he meant to say shortly)
And finally this classic: “I’m seeking a party-time position, with potential for advancement.” Now that sounds like a fun job!
Seriously, my job is not all fun and laughs, but I really do love my work, because I know that when you line up your God given Gifts, talents and passions, along with hard work for your chosen career, it’s a surefire path to success. In College, I majored Psychology and Communications, and like most students, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do when I “Grew up.” But I have always enjoyed learning about and studying successful people to see what makes them tick. For example, what drives them? How did they get to where they are? Maybe you have wondered these things as well.
In my professional and personal life, I’ve had some great successes, but also a lot of failures. My goal here is to motivate, inspire, and encourage you by sharing some of my own struggles, life story and more importantly spiritual journey, because I truly feel that at the core: “Our lives are simple, but we choose to make them complicated.” I hope you will relate to some of what I will share with you today.
Let’s start with my roots. I am the youngest of six children and was born and raised in a small town in Southern Michigan. (I refer to it as a “Brady Bunch” middle class home: 3 boys, 3 girls). However, my family suffered a tragic loss when my brother David died of a brain tumor when he was 13 and I was only two. My late father was a decorated World War II Army Veteran, and a retired Mechanical Engineer who, after his retirement, wrote and published a book about his experiences in as an infantry soldier serving in the Pacific. Our mother worked very hard to raise our family, including as a housekeeper to put me through college. I am forever grateful and strive to honor my parents as much as I can. By the way, they celebrated 67 years of marriage before they both went home to be with the Lord earlier this year at the age of 91.
I am also the proud Father of Luke, a wonderful 18 year old Special Needs son, and our beautiful Daughter Lily, who is almost 15. Growing up, I was raised in a rather strict environment, attending a religious elementary school, and my family were members of a very ritualistic and traditional church. During high school, and especially in College, I began to drift away from it. I found it very rigid and confining, and often felt disconnected due to a lot feelings of condemnation, shame and guilt. I’m sure some of you here today have experienced the same. In college, I joined a fraternity and really enjoyed the fast-paced lifestyle of parties, excessive alcohol and of course, chasing after women. After graduating college in 1988, I moved to the big city of Chicago and continued my partying and fast paced lifestyle for five more years. I finally settled down when I met a young woman from West Michigan in late 1993. I moved to Kalamazoo the following year and we were married in 1996.
Growing up, she never attended church (except for weddings and funerals) and was not interested in joining one, so my faith drifted even farther away. When our children were born, I encouraged her to find one together, and we finally did, but we eventually declined their invitation to become official members. Three years into our married life, I left a decent paying HR company job at a Fortune 500 company and joined a friend’s start up Executive Search Firm, and in a short time worked my way up into a Partnership role and eventually co-owned the company. When I made that move, I significantly increased my income from then on. My spouse and I began living very lavish lifestyle: Gourmet dinners, fine wine, expensive clothes, nice vacations, brand new cars, and of course a much bigger custom-built home with a large mortgage payment. At one point, I was named one of the “Top 40 Executives under the age of 40” in West Michigan. My wife decided to quit her job as a nurse to stay home with the kids. We entertained “our friends” every chance we got. We were all about instant self-gratification and lived a life of what I now realize to be a very vain, empty, self-absorbed and superficial existence. Not just shallow, but “deeply shallow”. Of course, I loved my children very much, and was able to provide for them more than they needed, was an active member of my community: the Local Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, etc… and gave a little money to charity. So I felt like, for the most part, that I was a good citizen, dad and husband. But at work, I chose to pursue success and making money no matter what the cost to my integrity, which really weighed upon my conscience. I would soon learn the hard way, as Zig Ziglar wisely said: “Ability can take you the top, but it takes character and integrity to keep you there.”
As a young couple, we were very immature didn’t have a strong moral compass, so there wasn’t the self control or discipline needed to properly manage our new financial situation. Like most people, Dave Ramsey wisely points out that: “We use credit cards way too much, to buy things we really don’t need, with money we don’t have, in order to impress people we really don’t like.” He also calls the disease of materialism “Stuffitis.” Back then, I was under the impression that “a successful man earns more money than his wife can spend.” As head of the household, I was in great denial of what lay ahead because of the tremendous Ego that I had developed. I considered myself a “Self Made Man” at that time, but now know there is no such thing, because if we lead life with our Egos, we will then “Edge God Out” of our lives. (That’s what EGO really stands for, in my opinion.) So eventually, like most married couples, we fought about money a lot. I was easily angered, especially when there were bills to pay. Weekend “Binge drinking” became a way of life to cope and frequent alcohol use was an escape from reality for the both of us. Not surprisingly, we lost our intimacy as a couple as we began to look for ways to avoid each other. I worked at the office more and spent less time at home. I realize now that we were totally blind to God’s goodness and grace in our life. At this point, we didn’t just have marital issues, we had a subscription. So we began to see a marriage counselor. I really wanted to work on these problems together as I still loved my wife, but later learned that she had already “emotionally checked out” of our marriage by that point.
Things at home began to take a drastic turn for the worse, in the Spring of 2007. I was crushed and heartbroken when my wife finally told me our marriage was over. I then became very bitter and extremely depressed. I couldn’t sleep or eat much. I was treated by my doctor and spent some time a local hospital for my severe depression and anxiety and was heavily medicated. While I was there, she filed for divorce, changed the locks to our home and asked for full custody, the house, alimony, etc.… So now at the very lowest point in my life, I picked up a Gideon’s Bible and a familiar verse really stood out to me: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me, These verses made me really think about things I had learned about Jesus when I was younger, and I began to realize how spiritually bankrupt I was, and that I needed His presence in my life now more than ever before. There is a place in the Bible that says: “I want you to remember the Good News I told you. You received that Good News message, and you continue to base your life on it. That Good News, the message you heard from me, is God’s way to save you. But you must continue believing it. If you don’t, you believed for nothing. I gave you the message that I received. I told you the most important truths: that Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say; that he was buried and was raised to life on the third day.”
That summer, I moved in with my Business partner, and used the time I spent away from my house and kids to think a lot about the mistakes I had made and many bad decisions that led up to where I was then. Of course, all of this pain and drama impacted my work performance and so our business began to suffer and my income dropped significantly. In early August of that year, I reached a point of total despair and hopelessness that I actually was planning my own suicide. But the night before I was ready to end my life, I thought about my children’s need for me, and got down on my knees, confessed my sins, and prayed hard for Jesus to intervene in the mess I had made of everything.
I finally chose to accept him from that moment on as my Lord and Savior, and that night, I really had the best night of sleep I had in many months. As I began to read and study the Bible daily, I soon learned that it is full of so many wonderful promises for our lives. One of my favorite verses is: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The Apostle Paul tells us what happened afterwards: “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”
I then discovered and joined a Bible based church, as well as a “Divorce Care” small group. That began the healing process of my heart and mind and I learned to how to be a follower of Christ, which built my faith and provided me with great wisdom and understanding. I re-discovered my life’s meaning and purpose, and now trust His will, principles and plan for my brand new life. I understand mercy, grace and forgiveness like never before, and can now tangibly see just how much God loves all of us unconditionally. In fact, I was even able to forgive my ex-wife completely, which I never thought I could do. We now share joint custody of our children and I continue to pray for her as well.Of course, our past caught up with us, as we had reaped what we had sown financially: So in 2009, I had to file for personal bankruptcy, my car was repossessed, the Executive Search business folded, and we lost our house to foreclosure.
Yet though all of those difficult challenges, I was at peace, not knowing exactly what the future held, but was always seeking to focus, trust, honor and give thanks to the One who does; knowing that He would always meet and abundantly supply all of my needs. The Bible says, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When I made the decision to put my faith and trust in Jesus and accepted all that He had done for me personally on the Cross. I became a believer. I know now that Jesus died for me, took my punishment, and I have accepted him as my Lord and Savior. He is our substitute and redeemer.
When you decide to follow Jesus, a great exchange takes place. He took our place, and died for each of us on the cross. All of our sins were placed upon Jesus Christ. He took our punishment instead, and rose again after three days in the grave. He lives! In that great transaction, Jesus took all of our sins and guilt, and we received His right standing as our eternal position in Christ. A one-time payment for every sin we’ve ever committed. So we can never earn God’s approval or salvation, it’s a free gift!
There have been many incredible blessings in the past Ten years: Through a friend from church, I was able to find a house to rent for us, and I also ran into another friend there who helped me get an HR position with the fifth largest bank in the United States in 2010, just one year after I had filed for bankruptcy. I worked there for six years and during that time, was able to save and pay cash for a used car, and eventually a brand new one in 2014. And here’s the best part: After my divorce, I met the lovely and beautiful Shannon, who works as a Clinical Pharmacist in the NICU at a local hospital. She and I soon became best friends, and she also joined my church. I proposed to her in late 2011 and we were married by our Senior Pastor on a joyous day in October of 2012. Her inner beauty is what really captured my heart.
Here’s some simple truth I’ve learned over all of this: Jesus didn’t promise to make everything great. He didn’t promise that we will never have any problems. However, He did promise that, progressively, we will change. He promised He’d give us hope in the midst of our challenges and difficulties. So in all of my own trials that I went through, they have made me learn to trust and lean on Him to guide and provide me in every situation. I am also deeply grateful for all of the wonderful daily encouragement from God’s Word and His Divine connections: My family and some very close friends, who love, help and support me along. I can’t fully describe to you the joy and “peace that transcends all understanding” that is in my heart today, but experiencing His Amazing Grace during that time was truly life changing. For myself, it came to the complete realization that when Jesus was all I really had left, He is all I truly ever needed. God’s totally unearned forgiveness and grace truly is sufficient.
Going through all of that I did, made me aware and appreciate that there really is a treasure in each of our trials; and that the challenges which come into our lives will become a stronger part of our own testimony, a chance to build and refine our character. Also, what often looks like a major set back, is always a set up for God to use it for His ultimate good, taking our own mess and making it a part of His message to share. The new life I now live, is in Christ’s resurrection power. This kind of life begins by asking Jesus to come into your heart by faith.
I hope that each one of us knows by now, that what matters most in life isn’t our material possessions, but our relationships, who we love and who loves us.
I know now that money will buy you a bed, but not a good night’s sleep, a house but not a true home, a companion but not a faithful friend, and finally there’s not a lot you can do about the national economy, but there is always something you can do about your own personal economy. The good news that I share with you today is what I discovered when Jesus said: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it in abundance.” God is love and He sent His very own son Jesus to redeem, transform, restore and save our souls (which is our mind, will and emotions) from this ever-darkening world in which we now live, and to join into a personal and wonderful relationship with Him. He is the source and center of all my inner strength, peace, joy and hope.
Reading today’s news headlines, it’s easy for all of us to get to very discouraged. When that happens, I love to remember these words: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” I hope you will come to know as I do that Jesus is who he says he is: “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.”
So no matter what challenges or problems you face today, please know this: You are never alone, don’t have to be afraid, and the best is always yet to come. Since 2007, my own spiritual re-birth and faith journey has been and continues to be a great testament to God’s glory, and He wants to provide eternal life to you starting today. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus is alive and the greatest gift you can or will ever receive!
Finally, I hope that some of you could relate somehow to my life’s story so far. I know God loves you just as much as He does me, and that He wants to begin to a great work in your heart and life as well right now. There is a need and a void in each of our hearts that only He can fill. Please open your minds and hearts today and make that life-giving choice to let to let Him lead you from now on. Please make that simple choice.
If you want to accept this invitation, please say this Prayer out loud: Dear Lord Jesus, I do believe that You are the Son of God and that You died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. I invite You to come into my life, forgive all my sins, and make me a part of the family of God. Come into my life, and take control. Thank you so very much for your gift of eternal life and please help me to live my life for You. Amen.
NOTE: If you asked Jesus to be your savior just now, God chooses to see you as clean and whole. That doesn’t mean that you will never sin again, but the sacrifice Jesus made is big enough to cover your past, present and future. And in Him, you have access to the life changing power of God that has the ability to heal the heart and bring real freedom from any degree of addiction or bondage you may be in. God says that in Christ we are more than conquerors and can do all things through Christ who is strengthening us now. So let us begin this journey of freedom together. Great things are to come!
Also, please commit to do these two things:
1. Attend Church Weekly.
Make it a point to regularly participate in church. If there is a Bible-preaching, life-giving church in your area, I highly recommend you visit and get connected to a local body of believers.. (Note: If you let me know where you’re from, I would love to try and help you find such a church in your area.)
2. Get and stay Humble; Read the Bible, Pray and Grow in your Faith.
Becoming a Christian and walking with the Lord is an exciting, faith-filled adventure. To help you get started on the right foot, I encourage you to get to know the promises and goodness of God by reading an easy to understand version of the Bible and talk to God daily through prayer.
To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please consider sharing your Testimony as well: One of the greatest witnessing tools we have available to us is the testimony of a changed life. We can look at many examples in the Bible of people who came to Christ, were saved and walked away changed. That same thing is happening today. You have the ability to share your story of a changed life. When sharing your Christian testimony through written word you want to remember that while this is a blessing to those who are saved, it can be used by God to reach the unsaved. Always write with the thought in mind that unsaved people will be reading your testimony.
Chuck Swindoll points out that: “The skeptic may deny your doctrine or attack your church, but he cannot honestly ignore the fact that your life has been cleaned up and revolutionized. He may stop his ears to the presentations of a preacher like me, or the pleadings of an evangelist, but he is somehow attracted to the human-interest story of how you—John Q. Public—found peace within. On six separate occasions between Paul’s third missionary journey and his trip to Rome, he stood before different audiences and presented Christ to them (Acts 22-26). Six times he stood alone. Six times he addressed unbelievers, many of them hostile and rude. Do you know the method Paul used each time? His personal testimony. That’s right, each time he spoke he simply shared how his own life had been changed by the invasion of Christ and the indwelling of His power. Not once did he argue or debate with them. He didn’t try to preach a sermon. Why? Because one of the most convincing, unanswerable arguments on earth regarding Christianity is one’s personal experience with the Lord Jesus Christ. No persuasive technique will ever take the place of our personal testimony. I challenge other believers to give serious thought to analyzing and then presenting the way God saved you along with the exciting results of His presence in your life.”
Reminder: The Gospel is not about me. It’s about Jesus. It is the proclamation of the person and work of Christ, and of how a person can appropriate the benefits of the work of Christ by faith alone.