Ok folks. Go to the bathroom, Grab you a cup of joe, and hold on for the ride because this my take a while. Yep, I'm letting it all hang out.
Here's what Jesus has done for me. ( And the list is still growing)
Like many people in the Bible belt, I was raised in church. Actually, I was made to go to church pretty much all my life until I was off to college. I was raised by my grandmother since I was 2 months old, and she made sure that I was in church practically every time the doors were opened. There were times that I liked it and there were times I resented it. As I grew older, I started questioning things that I was taught, God, the Bible, Jesus, etc. I NEVER wanted to believe something "because my grandmother said so" (Even though I highly regarded her opinion most of the time). Throughout my elementary and high school years, I lead a "Christian" lifestyle. By that I mean that I didn't party or drink or cuss (much) or fight, etc... If you would have asked if I was a Christian, I would have said yes. The World kinda uses "Christian" as meaning the same thing as a relatively good person. I actually thought that I was a good person and most people around me did too.
Let me let you in on a little secret that until now hardly anybody knew about. From the age of around 16 until 27, I was addicted to pornography. I also consistently had premarital sex with my girlfriend from my Junior year of high school on into college where we got married after becoming pregnant. (Now let me say that becoming pregnant wasn't the only reason we got married, but it did pretty much seal the deal.) All during my time at college I was using pornography, and continued to do so even after Linda and I were married. I can not tell you how much of my life that I have wasted with some perversion of Satan on what God intend to be the most intimate of things between a married couple. (Couple meaning, One Man and One Woman)
I'm telling you all of this not because I'm proud of it because I'm quite disgusted at it. But I tell you so that you will hopefully have more understanding of the following events. You see it was always in my mind that I was not harming anybody else. I honestly thought that what I was doing had nothing to do with anyone else, and furthermore it had no adverse affect on anyone else. I truly believed that.
My wife and I have two children. From the time that the first was born, my wife was pretty much on her own with raising them. I was about as passive as any one person could be. I was completely uninvolved. This was compounded by the fact that I had begun putting my new career in front of ALL.
Linda and I were married for 6 1/2 years living the way that I have previously mentioned. I had become quite numb (and dumb) to life the way it was at the Vallance household. Linda on the other hand had grown quite tired. After going out with a friend one night, Linda didn't come home. This honestly was the worst night of my life. She did return the next morning. The events following were the most difficult, stressful, and traumatic that I had ever faced in my life. Within a few short months, Linda had moved out of the house into her own apartment. After being separated for a few months, Linda filed for a divorce. I had never been so terrified in my life. I would ask the questions like why or how could she do this? What about all that we had together? I would lay in bed at night and literally just hurt all over my entire body. There were times that I even thought about suicide.
From the day that Linda moved out, I began to see just how lazy I was. Throughout all of the time that we were separated, I began to look deep into what I was doing in our relationship and began to look deep into our past 6 1/2 years of marriage. Then I started look deep into myself. I was in an apartment in Maumelle, AR. I was kneeling down at my coffee table with some Chris Tomlin song playing. And I was months from a divorce. I began to examine myself. God began to reveal to me the person I truly was. I began to realize that I wasn't the "good" person that I believed I was. I began to see all of the sin that was so much a part of who I was. All of the lies, idolatry, pervertedness. It was like my eyes were just OPEN! WIDE OPEN! I began to understand. NO, I MEAN TRULY UNDERSTAND!!!! I saw myself a sin stained, lowlife. An Enemy of GOD. It was at that moment that everything that I had ever been taught in all of my church going days became REAL! My self righteousness was completely burned away like filthy rags. I understood why God sent His Son to BECOME sin for ME! It was at that point that I knew what it was to be a Christian. When God reached out with His gift for me, I accepted it! I was BORN AGAIN! At that moment, God began to reveal more and more things in my life that were not acceptable in His sight. The things in the Bible that I had doubted before, I doubted no more! I began to see sin for what it is. I began to hate my sin. I saw how polluted my mind was. I asked God to complete strip anything that wasn't righteous away and just leave me what was left. I was no longer a slave to my addiction! I also began to pray and ask him about my marriage. When I asked, he answered. It wasn't with a bolt of lightening, or thunder, or a stone tablet dropping on the coffee table. But it was a still small voice. He simply said, "Let her go." I began to weep even more than before and fear struck thru me. But 1 sec after, I had complete peace. Peace that passes all understand. When he said, "Let her go." He was telling me another two things that I had never lived my life by. #1. You will have no other god's before me. This includes your wife. #2. Trust in ME. I had never truly put my trust in Him.
From that night forward, I have been living my life for the cause of Christ. I began to read my Bible because I knew that it was the only Truth in this world. The change in my life was evident. So much so, that Linda saw it from a far. 18 days before our divorce was final, Linda called her lawyer and stopped the proceedings. Yes folks, GOD saved my marriage. Linda and I moved back in together. We had some rough goes still, but I was faithful in putting God first. As hopefully you've read in her blogs, she start to question her salvation because she had never been CHANGED by the Holy Spirit. I would encourage you to read her blogs if you haven't already. But here's the spoiler, SHE GOT SAVED!
We are both so awe stricken' but it all. Our marriage has NEVER been what it is now. Umm.. A Godly marriage ;). Weeks after Linda being Born Again, we were blessed to go on a trip to Israel. It was an awesome time! There are no words that can describe seeing God's Word laid out before you!
Along with our salvation has came a burden about our friends and family that are lost. We are both burdened by so many people in the world claiming to be Christians, but just have religion.
It is my prayer if you have never been Born Again by the Holy Spirit in which your life was changed, that you humble yourself before a holy and righteous God and be sensitive to his drawing.
If you are reading this and you would say, "I'm a Christian" please take the time to examine yourself to prove that you are in the faith. The only way to do this is to read the Bible. Do not just go on what your grandmother told you, or your daddy, or your preacher! Humble yourself before a mighty GOD. Get real. Get honest. Get real honest. Has there ever been a time in your life where you have understood what it was like to be before a Holy God being a total enemy of His having no excuse or justification for yourself and your sinfulness? Did you repent (meaning stop doing) of those sins? Did you believe (meaning put all of your trust) in Jesus that he died to become your sin? Do you truly live your life for Him?
There will be more to come. Much Sooner than Later.