There was a time in my life when my whole reason for living was to get out of work on Friday, go to the bar and play my guitar and drink.
Regarding God … my mother took me to church at a young age. I didn’t like going, because there were so many other things to do. But one Bible verse stuck in my mind, and for some reason, it never left me – even though I quit going to church when I got older. The verse is:
For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 9:28)
I was born in Texas, and in the ninth grade I quit school and went to work, mostly washing dishes. My family was poor and they needed the money. At age 16 I linked up with a cousin who talked me into helping him steal enough money for a bottle of wine. While I waited outside, he broke into a library and pocketed a mere 25 cents. Because that wasn’t enough to buy wine, next he broke into an auction place and pressured me to go inside with him. As fate would have it, we both got caught, and I ended up going to jail. When I got out, I lost my job, because I was now labeled a criminal.
I had an aunt who lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and she invited me to come up one summer and visit her. I did, because I had nothing to lose. I needed work. At age 17, I left my girlfriend and family behind, and left for Michigan. I eventually landed a factory job in Grand Rapids. I saved a little money and sent for my girlfriend. She came, and we ended up getting married and started having children.
My life basically consisted of going to work, coming home, taking a bath, and going to practice with my musician buddies. We’d practice until about 10 P.M. every night, come home, go to sleep, and go to work the next day. When the weekend rolled around, I’d leave my wife and three children at home and go to the bar to play my guitar and drink. Naturally there was tension in the marriage because I was never home, and we fought a lot, especially when we both had been drinking. My wife eventually started drinking way too much, and stashed Vodka all over the house.
Growing up, I never had a mother or father that could show love. They never showed me affection, and consequently, I didn’t know how to show my own children affection. I never vocally told them I loved them, and never touched the
Going to the bars, getting drunk, fighting with my wife, not caring what my (now) five children were doing — it was a miserable life at home. But I felt real good when I was at the bar. When Sunday night was over though, all the fun and pleasure was over. Those people who we entertained would be home fast asleep, and we would still be up putting equipment in the truck.
My cousin, Rosie Trevino, she got what I called “religious”, and she would stop by every now and then and ask us to drop by sometime to one of the Bible studies they were having at her house. We’d say, “Yeah, sure, we’ll be there,” but we lied and never show up.
“You could see such joy on their faces.”
But the love that they showed from Jesus Christ shining out of them . . . that was becoming harder to bypass. You could see such joy on their faces. We couldn’t see that in our own faces when we looked in the mirror.
One time we were fighting again, as usual, and Rose was having another one of their Bible studies. My wife went over there half-drunk, with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. When she came back home, she reached up and hugged me and told me she was sorry for fighting. What shocked me was that it wasn’t her fault that had started the fight, but mine. I asked her what happened, and she shared a little bit about what had taken place. I thought to myself: Hey – she can go to this stuff as much as she wants, as long as I can get to go to the bars. No more problem!
She went the next week and she came back with more of a glow than the time before. I could see some change coming about in her, and I was beginning to like it. Then she dropped the bomb! “Honey, would you like to go with me next time?”
As things turned out, I decided to give it a try. But it became hell! I went there and they started sharing things out of the Bible, which I could handle. But then they started singing, and began lifting up their hands and praising God. I watched in total disgust, thinking, what in the world are you people worshipping? You are making absolute fools of yourselves! There was such an intense anger in me . . Worshipping something I couldn’t see . . . Praising Jesus who you couldn’t see. What a bunch of nuts! I hated this religious nonsense so much but guess what? Guess where I was the very next week? Right back there in the same chair, getting tortured again!
Strange as this may sound, I kept going back because I secretly knew there was nothing left out in the world for me any longer that I called living. Living for and the bar life left me so empty through the week. These people had faces most of the time – all week long – and this was something the bar life couldn’t give me. The bar life was something to please myself. Their motive to gather in the name of the Lord was not to please themselves, but to honor and please the Lord Jesus Christ, and grow in knowledge of Him. In the process, they were getting blessed, and I wanted the joy they had.
I kept going back to the meetings week after week for about three months. During those times that they would open the Bible and discuss it, my mind kept going back to that time as a young child where I remembered that portion of scripture about being “ashamed of God.”
I knew that if I died in the condition I was in, I wouldn’t go to heaven. Little by little, my heart began to soften, and I was able to receive more truths from the Bible. Eventually I even started singing a little, and playing the guitar along with them. The day came when I pretty much surrendered inside, and I said to myself: Okay – I’m going to give this a try. If it works, fine, but if it doesn’t, well at least I gave it a chance.
I said the sinner’s prayer, and asked the Lord to forgive me of all my past sins, and to change me. Prior to this, I always swore a lot. About every other word was always a curse word, whether to my boss or whomever. And I was always telling dirty jokes.
But in the days that followed my accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Savior — something was going on inside me. I started toning down my language, and finally the day came when I stopped cursing completely. I didn’t share with my boss or anyone at work that I had become a Christian because I was too embarrassed. I didn’t want him thinking I was a “Holy Roller” or anything like that.
Even though there was some small change for the better in my life, still I didn’t have the joy that other Christians had. I wanted that joy, and I just couldn’t work it up.
I went to my cousin Trine and asked him why I didn’t have this joy. ‘I said the sinner’s prayer, and asked forgiveness of my sins. Why don’t I have the joy you have?” He replied, “Well, you can fool me and every person who shows up at our Bible studies, but there’s one person you’ll never fool and that’s God. He knows whether you’re giving 100% of yourself to Him or something less than that.
And until you give 100% of yourself to Him, you’ll never experience this joy and peace that other Christians have.” It hurt, but I knew he was right. I was still ashamed to talk about the Lord. I didn’t want to raise my hands to Him or things like that.
One Saturday we met again, and I decided I was going to get up during worship service and raise my hands, and not care what anybody would think or say. The pride inside of me didn’t want me to lift up my hands, and that was what the devil was still using to keep me from receiving the peace and joy that was available to me (I came to discover later).
I was so tense – so fearful – but I forced my hands up anyway. I got them up about halfway, and then it was suddenly like electricity started shooting through my hands — down my arms — into my shoulders.
Then I lost all of my strength, and fell backwards. Even though I was now on the floor under the power of God, my hands still remained outstretched to some degree and a flood of praise and adoration to God began to flood my soul and lips. There was such glorious release from the hold pride had on me, and I began to praise the Lord with my lips with total abandonment, giving Him thanks for the many things that was coming to mind.
“I was so happy, bubbling over with that unspeakable joy scripture speaks of.”
Afterwards, in my car driving home, the experience continued, and I could hear what sounded to me like a million angels singing “hallelujahs” . . . making such a beautiful song. I was so happy, bubbling over with that unspeakable joy that scripture speaks of. (See Acts 13:52; Romans 14:17).
There was a guy walking along the road, and I wanted to stop so bad and shake him and tell him that Jesus was real, and that he could have the joy that I was now experiencing! When I got home and went to bed, this singing was still ringing in my head like a million angels singing. It was the most incredible experience.
To God be the glory . . . an incredible change came over me in the days that followed! I started hating having to go to the bars on weekends.
I wasn’t judging other people who wanted to go there, but it was doing nothing for me any longer. I told the leader of the band that I couldn’t do what I had always done before, because I had become born-again of the Holy Spirit. I told him, “It happens just like the Bible says! You’ve got to be born-again of the Spirit, otherwise you can’t truly be excited about the Kingdom of God Jesus spoke about. (See John 3:5).
My wife and I started going to church every time we could after that. We both were growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ, and our heavenly Father, and our marriage was so much better for it.
Here was another benefit of the life of Christ now in me. My second to the oldest boy — he was laying down asleep on his bed, and I went over and sat next to him. I told him, “Son, I love you.” He looked at me like I was nuts! He had never heard those words come out of me in his lifetime. Neither had any of my other children. Nor had I heard those words come from my father – ever. But God had now given me the grace and ability and desire to change, because I had chosen to let pride and embarrassment go in my life. Oh how I learned how pride will bottleneck the good things God wants us to experience . . . so we can be blessings to others and Him.
And I became a huggy person as well — something I could never do before. Pride and embarrassment would never let me do that either. But now I loved to hug my children.
Every now and then my wife and I would still fight, but now we could turn to the Lord Jesus for help to make things right, and to patch up our wounds and hurt feelings. And of course, we both were learning to practice forgiveness, which neither of us were able to do before.
By that time we had six children. And we had about six years together as husband and wife being born-again in the Holy Spirit. My wife got pregnant again, and the day came when she went to the hospital to deliver. They removed the baby girl by performing a Cesarean section. I waited in the recovery room, and later when they brought her in, I noticed she was not acting right, and she was very pale. They rushed her into the emergency room, and later the doctor came out and said that she had died.
Left with seven children to raise without a mother . . . I was now to be tested beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I came to discover that “marriage with Christ” doesn’t just love Him when things are going well. If being born-again of the Holy Spirit were nothing but miracles and instant healings and million dollar bank accounts, the entire world would convert to Christianity … NOW! … But very few want a personal relationship with God that says: He who loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s shall find it. (Mark 8:35).
Like in marriage between a man and a woman . . . there will be times when circumstances will arise when you will want to get away as far as you can from your spouse. Some do, but some stay with determination (commitment based on a decision, not feelings) to work through the difficulties to bring about change. Should a person “divorce” Jesus Christ just because He isn’t allowing things to go the way we want?
There will always be ample temptation to do so, but I doubt that my wife who was now in heaven was having any thoughts of divorcing Christ, as she was now in God’s presence forever, where all pain and suffering are over.
“Yes – it was hard going home and telling my children that their mom was not going to come home.”
Yes – it was hard going home and telling my children that their mom was not going to come home. But God gave grace, as He always does to those who place their hand in His, and we made it through that difficult time. The hardest days for me were Saturdays. Sometimes I’d go to the cemetery and cry my eyes out, but I’d walk away smiling. God filled me with His joy by the time I had to leave.
After a couple of years, people started asking when I was going to get married again. I was having such a good time growing in the Lord that I never thought about remarrying – really. I was doing great, but I didn’t realize my children needed a mother. In time I started looking for a wife.
I knew the only place I was going to look was in churches. It would have to be a lady who loved the Lord Jesus with all of her being, giving herself totally to Him. Then Rosalia came into my life. I had known her when I was a teenager. God eventually brought us together and we got married. She had two children and I had seven so we had a family of nine.
We’re still growing in the Lord, but there’s nothing like being born-again. I still love to use my musical talent to bless others, but I now do it in a way that will minister to people spiritually, rather than for my own personal gratification.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story and it is my hope that you turn your life over to Jesus Christ 100%, so that joy and peace with God will be yours to the fullest of measure!