Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Lord Healed My Backsliding

I’d like to share with you about the unlimited grace and mercy of Jesus Christ in the life of my nephew, Denis.  I had the privilege of leading him to the Lord twenty-six years ago, and was so blessed to see him recommit his life to Christ not too long ago.  He states in his testimony below:




How I Came to Know Christ Initially
I was raised a Catholic, so I knew some information about the Lord Jesus, but I didn’t know Him personally.  I had never heard the gospel message of salvation or how to be saved. I was a typical youth in high school, into the party scene and living for myself.  I was not seeking the Lord at all.

Then in May of 1986, my uncle Len, who was serving in the military, returned home to NH on leave for 30 days before being deployed overseas.  He had recently given his life to Jesus, and as he began to share his newfound faith with me, I could easily see he was a changed person. You can read his testimony on “The Truth Set Me Free.”

The Lord convicted me of my sin, and my need for Jesus, so I repented and gave my life to Him.  During Len’s 30-day leave period, I spent a lot of time in the Word with him, learning about the Lord and what He expects of us. I joined a local church, where I attended regularly for worship.  I was baptized in water, baptized with the Holy Spirit, and I began to attend the youth group, where I eventually became a leader.  At first, I was full of joy and willing to lay it all down for the Lord. After graduating from high school, I even got married to a young lady from the church, and we went to Bible school, where I began preparing myself for full time ministry as a youth pastor.

I Had No Roots
But things fell apart there in Bible school.  My wife had different goals and the marriage didn’t work out.  I was crushed when she left me.  The hurt from that experience was overwhelming to me. 

Jesus described the seeds of the gospel being cast upon four different kinds of soil.  And you could say I was like the seed planted on rocky soil.  Jesus said, "Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. "But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.” (Mat 13:5-6).  That may be the best way to describe me.  I was full of joy and quickly sprang right up, running ahead with my plans to serve God.  But I had no roots, and the trials I encountered in life were more than I could handle. 

Drifting Away from the Lord
That’s when I began on a long journey that would take me away from the Lord for over two decades.  In fact, for me it was a period of significant rebellion against the Lord and backsliding. After a while, I didn’t want to hear anything about the Lord.  I lived for myself and did whatever I wanted. 

I won’t go into the ugly details of all that I did during that time.  But I stopped praying and reading my Bible.  I caved in to all media temptations excessively  (secular music, television, and Internet), and had absolutely no regard for financial spending.  I stopped attending church and tithing.  With no more joy or peace in my life, I turned to heavy drinking and drug use (prescription and illegal). I became more of a sinner than I had been before I ever knew the Lord!

I then attempted marriage again, this time to a non-believer, and that didn’t work out.  It only caused more hurt and bitterness inside of me.  I didn’t realize that the problem I was running from was inside of me, not primarily with someone else. 

I began living together with another non-believer, whom I later married, and she is still my wife today.  Needless to say, all of this sowing of bad seed in my life began to bring in quite a harvest.  I really began to reap what I’d sown all those years.  As the Scripture says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal 6:7-8)

How the Lord Got Me Back
Denis Lacroix
I thank the Lord that He didn’t give up on me.  Like the good shepherd who left the ninety-nine sheep to seek after the one lost sheep, I can see clearly now how He was seeking me out in so ways that simply cannot be dismissed as mere coincidences.  For example, He provided me with a job as a dispatcher at a small trucking company, which was owned and operated by an older, married couple. They were very precious, born again believers, who cared for me and prayed for me.  And so did Len, who always treated me with love, even when I was away from the Lord.  I may not have liked it when he tried to tell me that I needed to return to the Lord, but I knew it was true. 

There were a few times when the Lord allowed me to “coincidentally” run into Len at Walmart, and we would stop to chat briefly together.  On another occasion, when I decided to go to church one Sunday, Len just happened to be led to visit that same church that morning with his family, rather than attending his home church as usual.  I recall how he and his family sat right behind us in church that day.  He would also phone me from time to time, and remind me that the Lord still loved me, and that He was waiting for me to return to Him. 

Looking back, I can see God’s grace in my life.  Even while I was away from Him, in my state of rebellion, He delivered me from an unplanned suicide attempt I made while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  Had I succeeded in killing myself, I would have perished eternally. And then after He rescued me from death, He healed me from my injuries. What a loving Savior! He was calling out to me, as the Scripture says, “Return, you backsliding children, And I will heal your backslidings.” (Jer 3:22a)

I guess I just felt like I had fallen so far away that even if God was willing to forgive me, I couldn’t forgive myself.  I knew I deserved hell for my rebellion against the Lord. I was just waiting to die and face my certain judgment.  I came to understand first-hand what the verse to the Hebrews means that says, “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.” (Heb 10:26-27).  Let me assure you that you don’t ever want to experience that like I did. 

There were a couple times over the years, when I did attempt to return to the Lord.  Aside from that time I attended church one Sunday, I also repented and prayed to give my life back to the Lord. I was finally crying out, “Indeed we do come to You, For You are the Lord our God." (Jer 3:22b). But the strongholds were so entrenched in my life that I was never able to follow through on my commitment.

Len recommended a couple churches for me, and I said I would check them out.  But for years I kept putting that off for another day, until recently.  Finally in 2011, on Easter Sunday, I finally decided to attend a church, where Len was preaching.  I asked the Lord to cleanse me by the blood of Jesus Christ, and forgive me from the darkness and sin that I allowed to bind me in chains.

He's Healed My Backsliding
Since then I have continued to serve in a local church, and watched the Lord heal my backslidings.  As the prophet Hosea says, "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from him." (Hos 14:4).  He has loved me freely and turned away His anger from me.  I am so grateful for His love and mercy toward me.

Just to show you how He has healed my backsliding, here are some of the areas that God has delivered me from, and continues to work in my life through the Holy Spirit. I have joined a home group through the church. He’s also been using the weekly Bible studies and Sunday morning services to restore all that the worms have eaten in my life.  He has restored my communion with Him, and I once again enjoy an active, daily prayer life, as well as daily time spent in His living Word. He has set me free from alcohol and illegal drugs completely!  He has broken my addiction to video games, which once consumed over fifteen hours of my time each week. He also set me free from my addiction to Facebook games, although I continue to pray for complete deliverance from this as well. He has delivered me from two of the prescription meds I have taken for over 10 yrs.

He has also healed me of the anger and bitterness inside my heart, as a result of all the evil in my past.  The change in my behavior has been like night and day.  Though I still fall sometimes, He has really been faithful in this area of my life. He has helped me to put Him first in my finances. He has given me spiritual boldness to share the Gospel of Christ with my immediate family, and given me a burden to pray for my unsaved extended family and friends.  And He has put within me a desire to do more, in terms of sharing Jesus with those I don’t know. 

Sharing Jesus with My Loved Ones
As a way of helping my friends and family to focus on the real meaning of Easter, and to invite the un-churched ones to worship with me at my home church for Easter services, I sent out a shortened version of this testimony back in the spring of 2012. I sent it as an email, which I believe went to nearly all 250 people on my distribution list. Though I probably lost a few people on the list, who didn’t appreciate it, there were a few who thanked me for being so open about my life as it was both before and after I was saved. And of course, as a result of the Holy Spirit moving through what I shared, my mother, two sisters, and brother-in-law, as well as my nephew and niece attended the services. The Lord has been working in their lives since then, drawing them to himself.

My mother got water baptized at my church, and so did my younger sister, along with her significant other, who have since just recently been married.   My other sister shows an interest in the Lord and openness to the gospel.

The Lord has allowed other changes to occur in my life that I may not have listed here. And I also realize that these changes are not because of who I am or what I have done, but because of who Jesus is, and what He has done for me. I truly believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and if it were not for His birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and intercession on my behalf before God, I would be damned to Hell for my sins. I repent daily for any darkness that I have allowed into my heart through my eyes or ears. I ask God that He would allow the Holy Spirit to purge me from the things that He detests and hates, so that I too would detest and hate them as well. I know that I am nothing but dust that the Lord has chosen to breath life into, and all I have comes from Him.  I pray this testimony will be a blessing to you, and those who may be facing the same deceptions and evil traps from the enemy.

Denis Lacroix

[END OF DENIS'S TESTIMONY]

Praise the Lord for making Denis to be a testimony of the saving power of Jesus Christ!

My Personal Invitation to You
In closing, please let me say that if you are backslidden -- you were once saved, but are now away from Jesus Christ,  He is calling to you today to return to Him.  He leaves the ninety-nine other sheep in the flock to pursue you -- that one lost sheep.  Return to Him with repentance and weeping.  "Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, 'Take away all iniquity And receive us graciously, That we may present the fruit of our lips.'" (Hos 14:2) He will forgive you, and heal you.  But don't ever go back that way again!

There is nobody on earth more miserable than a backslidden Christian.  It's a terrible place to be. You might fool yourself into believing that your having fun, but the truth is that deep down inside your soul is aching. You have no peace.  The only answer is to cry out to the Lord for mercy and turn your back on sin.  Separate yourself from the world and consecrate yourself to the Lord once again. Pour out your heart to God in a covenant prayer something like this one.

And if you know a Christian, who is backslidden, don't give up on them.  Keep praying and loving them.  Keep telling them, "You will not miss your destiny. You will be a mighty man (or woman) of God. You will be a testimony of the saving power of Jesus Christ." Keep telling them that they need to return to the Lord.  The Lord will hear your prayers, and send His angels to move them out of that dangerous place into a place of safety where they can find a door to God.

Lastly, if you are contemplating suicide, I need to warn you that it's a trap of the devil.  Suicide will not solve any of your problems.  I don't know any other way to say this more kindly, except to say that suicide will only assure you an eternity in hell.  Your life is valuable to God, who made you, and you do not have permission to kill yourself. What you need right now is to cry out to the Lord Jesus, and ask Him to save you.  If you're desperate enough to consider taking your life, then you have nothing to lose.  And you can be sure that He will answer your sincere prayer. The new life He gives will be unimaginably better than the one you're now seeking to end.  He has a purpose for your life! And when He's finished fulfilling His purpose for you, then He'll take you up into glory to be with Him forever in heaven.

It all begins with giving your life to Him. Won't you do that today?

The Shepherd loves His sheep
He’s sad when they get lost
At times they choose to stray
Once saved at such a cost

He takes the time to train them
To listen to His voice
To follow His commands
But still, they have a choice
-- excerpt from "Good Shepherd"
by Charity V. Lacroix

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The "Washed by the Blood" painting © 2012 is by Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. 

Author's Note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to read "Covenant Prayer," "Drifting Away," "The Truth Set Me Free," "Holy Living in a Perverted World," "The Evil Spirit of Alcohol", and a poem by my daughter called "The Good Shepherd." You are invited to view my collection of blogs at Writing for the Master

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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