Matthew 15:8 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.”
Everything in my life stayed the same and in fact my moral behavior seemed to get worse. Lust, cursing, and disrespect for my parents, and authority began to rear there ugly heads in my life. The world was looking good to me and I wanted to experience everything it had to offer. Then through the intervention of some godly men in the church who took me aside and talked with me I became convicted and finally, you guessed it, at the age of seven-teen I went down front Sunday morning again under conviction of my sin and got baptized on July 17th, 1988. I wish I could tell you this was the one that stuck, or that I had given my life truly to Jesus. The sad reality is my life was mine, and my heart was wretched and growing harder towards God and His love. I was running with the devil and he convinced me at the time to be a lover of self, and the world. I dove into sin experiencing all the world had to offer. During these dark troubled teenage years I was still going to church and still proclaiming I was saved. The reality, I was not saved, and I longed for the sin I loved. One of my high school friends convinced me of atheism, and so I told my parents I was an atheist and in November 1990 I joined the Navy and for what I thought was forever I left the church, God, and religion.
Psalm 53:1 The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good.”
During my teenage years in church I knew of God even knew the gospel, and if you would have asked me; I would have told you I am a Christian. The sad truth is I was lost in my sins and damned before a Holy and Righteous God all the while earnestly and happily denying Him.
1 John 1:6 “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
I was in the Navy and in my sin, but if you would have asked me I was saved, because I made a profession of faith and was baptized, (3times even). Yet I loved my sin and pursued it as a passionate lover. My heart was dark and my desire for sin grew stronger. I was drinking more while lusting and committing sexual sin, addicted to porn, and for two years lived a sinful life in all its depravity while in the Navy. When I return home I married my high school sweetheart and for a moment it seemed I was starting to mature. This was not the case for within a matter of months I was living like I was still in the navy, except this time I was a married man. I was living how I wanted chasing women and drinking, staying gone from home all night hanging with friends. Worse yet I was trying to justify my sin by passing it off as readjusting to civilian life. Even after the birth of my first child I still pursued sin living for just me. I had two lives the married Jimbo and the happy go lucky Jimbo. The married Jimbo managed after the birth of my second child to mature enough to hold a full time job and we bought a home, and for a moment we were happy. The happy go lucky Jimbo still loved his sin in all its fullness as an adulterer who was addicted to porn, and drinking more and more. I was so detached from my marriage that it was constant fighting and making up. I was gone all the time and basically my wife and I were just roommates. Divorce and a life of perversion and loneness seemed to be the future of my journey.
Revelation 8:3-4 “Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand.”
In 2015 I did a funeral in Louisville on a Sunday afternoon. Knowing I would be getting back to late to attend my own evening service I went to evening service at Auburndale Baptist where a friend of mine pastors. After service and catching up with my friend I started to leave when in the parking lot a dear sweet godly woman who recognized me earlier in the service came up and asked my name. She then proceeded to hug me and smiled recognizing I was indeed the one she thought I was. When she heard I was a pastor she jumped for joy and told me she and my mother had been praying for me with their Sunday school class everyday for God to save me. I never knew this lady, or that my mother and her class had prayed for my salvation. God was being gracious in showing me His work through His saints. I had no idea this dear woman attended Auburndale or that she had prayed for me personally to have salvation. I was truly humbled. I share this because I want to show you my journey how God used those prayers to save me. During the course of a year God pursued me and convicted me until I surrendered to Him. Here is a brief look of how He saved me.
One morning I woke up, I believe it was a Saturday. My wife had already gotten up and I was left alone with my thoughts. I remember looking around the room and thought there has to be more to life than this. In my mind the thought came as clear as any thought before it. “You know there is.” This jarred me to the point I felt uneasy. I immediately got up and discounted the thought, but it refused to leave the back of my mind. During the next few weeks the thought seem to intensify I actually started to feel convicted for how I was living. At the time I was in an adulterous affair, drinking, and staying out all night with friends, and still hooked on porn. I had convinced myself there was love, and there was sex. I loved my wife, yet I loved and wanted sex. After being convicted of my actions I would try to justify my sin by saying things like, God knows my heart, or I am good with God, and He loves me (After all I was saved three times right). All the while denying Christ and embracing sin. The next thing to catch me off guard was one night me and my wife had a huge fight I was cussing her to my shame, and instead of cussing me back or calling me names, she just said we need Jesus. I could not speak or even think after that comment. My wife had never mention Jesus before or anything religious. The only thing related to church was my dad and mom would take my daughter Savannah to church for youth, but we never really talked about God. I was convicted and walked away thinking on those words.
Psalm 33:8 “Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.”
The conviction had become constant and at times unbearable. The Lord in His graciousness had provided I and my family a new home in Mt Washington Ky. God had removed me from the friends who were encouraging a sinful life style. At this point the conviction of my sin was strong and I actually cried out to God yelling I need more time. Coming home from work on a December night on hwy 44 I was stopped in traffic waiting for a car to turn when I was rear ended by truck. A couple of bulging disk and a concussion but thank God nothing broken. I was laying on a gurney in emergency room alone, and a thought came into my head. You have your time now.
John 6:37-40 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
A couple of weeks later I awoke in bed hurting from my accident and with conviction in my heart I cried out, fine, you win, I’ll go to church, but you have to pick the one. I am not going back to (The one I grew up in), because there a bunch of hypocrites there. That moment I got out of bed and walk into the kitchen. My father-in-law was there and we had breakfast and coffee. He then asks if I had an extra bible he could have. I told him I might still have the one from my youth days in church. I could not find it. I told him we could ride to the store to buy one to which he answered I do not have that much money to buy a new one. I then suggested the dollar store for they sell them cheap. He said he only had five dollars. My wife works at a hospital I called her to see if she could bring one home. He said if possible he would like a KJV so she went to look for a Gideon bible. The thought then came to me I now live within five minutes of four churches. So I asked Luke if he would like to go to the churches and ask them for a bible. He agreed so we left and I drove past a Methodist church and came to a Baptist church and decided to start there. The reason being we were both Baptist and knew nothing of the Methodist. We saw some daycare workers go in a door and we followed them in. They showed us the way to the office and the moment I put my hand on the door I knew this was the church I was supposed to attend. I cannot explain it, only to say I felt a very strong urging to attend. So strong and urge I immediately called my wife and told her we were going to attend that Sunday. The Lord confirmed this was indeed the church for they used the NIV version of the bible, but happen to have one KJV to give to my father-in-law. We gave five dollar love gift and I left feeling a peace.
Romans 2:5-6 “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who "will render to each one according to his deeds."
The first Sunday we attended was great we were loved on and welcomed. I listen to the sermon and enjoyed the day. The following Sunday I and my wife went down and join the church. They accepted us on letter and voted us in right there. We said we both needed church and wanted a church home. So after a quick vote, it was official we were church members now. The only problem was we were not saved. I felt like I did the right thing, but the conviction was stronger than ever and my heart was torn. I wish I could say I heard a bone crushing, gut wrenching sermon that convicted me, but I did not. I did not see angels, or hear a voice from heaven saying repent. Instead I felt guilty and dirty. I cannot remember what night I think it was a Monday night I went into the garage to settle this once and for all. I had an old fishing chair and I collapsed in it looking up feeling, in a word, done. I just said God I give up. That moment fear came over me and a feeling of a great weight was lifted off of me. I was so startled I cried out, Lord is that you knowing it was Him. I felt alive for the first time, brand new, full of Joy, and forgiven. Over the next few days things completely changed I was no longer happy go lucky Jimbo instead I was the husband and father I should have been. I had a hunger for the word and a longing to know God and a desire to be close to Him. I stopped drinking, the porn addiction, and cussing were taken away. I no longer desired my sin and I longed to be with other believers, and talk about the things of God with them. I even wanted to go to church every time the door was open. The first time in my life I was truly born again.
Romans 10:10 “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
The last thing I want to share is how God brings sins to the light. During the first weeks of being saved things were really good. I was even sharing my faith and growing in the knowledge of God. At that time I had no idea the Lord wanted me in ministry or what He was about to do. You see I had an adulterous affair and done many sexual sins against my wife. When I got saved I broke off the affair and even shared my faith with the other woman. I thought everything was good. The Lord started to convict me about sharing my sin with my wife. I refused thinking it was Satan trying to trip me up. This conviction started to weigh heavy on me all the while I am rejecting it. One Wednesday night on my way home from work I had a thought pop in my head either I would tell my wife or the Lord would. I kid you not I said out loud, brave on brave cat, I am taking those secrets to the grave. The conviction left me and I thought I had beat the devil or what I thought was the devil. After church that night a little girl came up to me while I and my wife were talking to the youth pastor and some new friends we had met at church. She interrupted the conversation we were having and said pointing to me. I know you. I said you do thinking she knew my young son from his Sunday school class at the time. Yes she said, your (Other woman’s name) friend, and then proceeded to walk off. This little girl was other woman’s neighbor’s daughter. I met her once for a minute if that. The thought came back with a deeper conviction tell Sheri or I will. The true but scary thing about this incident is that little girl never did come back to the church after that. I have never saw her again. God had made His point loud and clear. That night I confessed everything and every sin I done against my wife. My wife being hurt as one would expect packed a bag and left. I went to the bedroom and cried out to God in prayer why now, why after I get right does she leave. The Lord heard both our prayers that night, and my wife came back home. Her reason she said was that something was different about me, and she knew I had been saved. We went through marriage counseling and renewed are wedding vowels this time before God as children of God. My wife herself came to Christ through all this, but that’s her testimony.
Proverbs 28:13 “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
That same year God called me into ministry and now ten years later I am a pastor of a church. I am amazed at where God has brought me. I have a college education a strong marriage and I still hunger for God and desire to be closer to Him. I pray you do as well.
My friend salvation is not a prayer said or a baptism. Salvation is not church membership or the belief in God, even the demons believe (James 2:19). Salvation is repentance and following Christ. Salvation is an intimate relationship with Jesus. The word intimacy means a close, togetherness, or faithfulness. Do you have that? One day all of us will pass from this life. When you die, you will face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Ask your self have you ever lied, stolen, or used God’s name in vain? Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” If you have done these things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart, and the Bible warns that one day God will punish you in a terrible place called Hell. But God is not willing that any should perish. Sinners broke God’s Law and Jesus paid their fine by suffering and dying on the cross. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death. Today, repent and trust Jesus, and God will give you eternal life as a free gift. Then, while these things can’t save you, honor Christ’s command to be baptized, and get involved in a good bible believing church.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I pray you been blessed, encouraged, and to some I pray convicted. Before I leave you I would like to ask one more question if I may, please. How do you know if you’re saved? You read my story and saw that I said the prayer, I was baptized, however as you read these things did not save me. I even believed in Jesus and knew He died on the cross, but I still was not saved. So I ask you, do you have that intimacy with Jesus? Is there a continue repentance in your life? Does your life show you’re walking in Holiness? Is there desire in your heart to please the Lord and do you love others. Do you have a zeal for others to know this Jesus you love? Has He truly changed you?
Paul says it like this
2Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Galatians 2:20 “ I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
I pray you are trusting in Christ and walking with Him and not looking back saying salvation I done that I am good. Look to Christ and call out to Him and He will save you (Romans 5:8-11). Your brother in Christ…Pastor Jimbo …………Isaiah 43:7 “Soli Deo Gloria”