s was Most everyone who reads this may not know me very well, so I am taking this opportunity to share with you a little history about my life since meeting Jesus.  But before I do that, you might need to know what I was like BC (before I met Christ).

Before Christ:

My earliest recollection of any type of religious teaching was when I attended a church in Fresno, CA. at the age of 5, and it was only for a few years.  That is where I first heard of Jesus and His love for me, and that brief time at Fresno Christian Fellowship gave me a foundation that I would later appreciate.  For the next 35 years I would occasionally hear God calling me with His still, small voice, inviting me into His presence, but I always responded by saying “Lord, I know you are there and I will build a relationship with you when I get tired of having fun”.  I thought that if I responded to His call, I would have to give up all the fun I was having in life and I was not ready for that.

My biological father died when I was 5 years old, and I grew up hating my stepfather, but not because he was a bad father.  He tried his best to reach me, but I was angry because he took away the attention of my mom.    I struggled along through school with abandonment issues resulting from my real dad dying and my mom abandoning me (or so I thought because of her marrying my stepfather).    I left home as soon as I graduated high school and went to work for a construction company.  The work seemed natural to me and I became a general contractor in a short time.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

I married my 1st wife after finding out she was pregnant and she divorced me two years later, primarily because I had no skills as a husband or father and had no intention of gaining those skills.  I was all about having a good time and was constantly putting my wife and son in 2nd place behind my desire for work, alcohol and recreational drugs.  Soon after, we were divorced, and I married the 2nd time to a broken woman who encouraged my bad habits.  We partied together and thought we were living the dream and I lived with her for 18 years.

In the 1980s I owned a construction company building commercial buildings in the North Bay area of California.  I was NOT a good contractor, or even a good person.  I regularly lied to clients in an attempt to wrangle more money from them.  I regularly manipulated almost everyone I came across as a means of getting my own way.  I was addicted to amphetamines, alcohol, pornography and sex and spent most my income on supporting those habits.  However, I seemed to be a “functional addict”, meaning that I could function in daily life and APPEARED to be a hard working businessman.  I was all about APPEARANCES, but behind the mask I was a broken man, deeply desiring more from life but not knowing how to get it.

The Fall:

Early in 1989 my contracting business went belly up.  Business was flourishing up until that point and my firm had just finished and been paid for three large jobs.  There was nothing on the books for the future except three multi million jobs that we were on the verge of getting contracts for.  Then my whole world fell apart.  All in one day the three potential jobs were lost due to weird circumstances, (I am convinced now that this was actually God’s way of getting through to me!)  I had a $20,000 a month overhead and twenty full time employees.  When I went home and told my 2nd wife what had happened, she said “I didn’t sign up for this, and I am out of here”.  I had a massive amount of debt because most of my income had been spent on the immediate pleasures of life instead of paying my subcontractors and suppliers.  I also owed IRS for withholding taxes that had not been paid in over two years.

Suddenly, life wasn’t the party that I thought it once was.  When I realized that my whole life was going down the tubes I got extremely depressed and decided to end it all.  I had always thought that people who committed suicide were weak, but now I realize that they are just people without HOPE.

Life had turned out to be unbearable for me and I did not see any way out.  So I put my 45 caliber Colt on the seat of the truck and took off for the Mendocino coast, looking for a place to end it all.  I had envisioned shooting myself as I drove off a cliff into the ocean.  I had just bought one of the first cell phones for vehicles and had one installed in my work truck. The problem was that the early cell phones had only limited service in the major cities, once outside the city limits the reception disappeared as there were no cell towers there.

Suddenly my cell phone rang, I looked at the phone and there was no reception, NONE WHAT-SO-EVER!  As I picked it up I was half-expecting God to be on the other end, but it was an old friend.  Doug had been a former employee and had since started his own construction company.  He was instantly successful and had always rubbed my face in the fact that he was so successful and I was always struggling.  But lately he had changed into a kind, considerate friend who was always encouraging and always willing to help. He said he was just calling to check up on me and asked me what was going on in my life.  I didn’t want to tell him what I was thinking of doing so I just said, “Doug, you used to be such a jerk and lately you have been a really good friend, what changed with you?”  He said, “I attended a seminar in Sacramento last year, do you want to go, it’s coming around next month?”  That was the HOPE that kept me going for the next month because I didn’t know what Doug had, but I knew I wanted it for myself!  I now realize that Doug had called me out of obedience to a prompting from God.

The Solution:

Doug and his wife met me at the seminar and the very first night of the seven day event I once again heard about the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and it resonated with me, I beleive thiswas because of my early childhood memories of First Christian Church in Fresno.  I surrendered my life to Jesus that evening and started attending a Christian church in my hometown that Sunday.

Jesus is the Great Redeemer, and from that time on until now God has been actively working in my life to show me the truth of His Word in the Bible, and redeem all the areas of my life that I had given over to bad choices. But it has not always been easy.  He has redeemed my married life, although not to the wife I was married to at the time.  She decided she wanted to continue with drugs and alchol and so left me a few years after I started my new life with Jesus.   Jesus has redeemed my relationships, He has redeemed my finances, He has redeemed my personality.   My desire for alcohol and drugs left me instantly when I gave my life to Jesus.  However, I had planted a seed of destruction early on in my adolescence by viewing pornography.   It started at age 11 when a school friend gave me a copy of Playboy.   I was mesmerized by the beauty of the nude female body and this started a battle with porn and the secretive life that it fostered, and that life took me 20 years into my Christianity to overcome.  Looking back on my life before Christ I realized that those seeds of a secretive life infiltrated EVERY area of existence for me.                                                                                             

There is a bumper sticker which says “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.”  I am a living example of that slogan.  On the outside I appeared to be the perfect Jesus follower, always in church, always willing to help, giving generously to the Lord’s work and serving in every area where there was a need.  But inside I was full of sexual lust and filth.  I had tried to quit porn ever since I had surrendered my life to Jesus, and would do OK for short periods of time, but I always gave in to it when I was anxious or stressed out.  It was the crutch I leaned on when I was stressed, instead of surrendering my lust to Christ.  As one of my pastors says,  “We often repent enough to be forgiven, but we don’t surrender enough to be transformed.”

Surveys taken by many deferent Christian groups have confirmed that roughly 60-70 % of Christian men regularly view pornography.  That is just slightly less than the national average for secular society.  I have discovered that secrecy is the tool the enemy of our soul (Satan) uses to keep us captive to our bad habits.  When I admitted my weakness to my Pastor, my life started to change.  He gave me some resources and met with me every week, eventually he and my curremt wife (Kelli) encouraged me to lead a small group of men who were struggling with the same sin.

Today, I can say I am free of sexual lust and porn, and have been a part of helping many other men live a life of freedom from sexual dysfunction and porn.  Life is so precious, and so short.  Why do so many choose to live a life of slavery to porn and other addictions, when we could just surrender to Jesus and allow Him to help us with living life.  Jesus said in John 8:36, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”, speaking of Himself as God’s Son.  That’s really what frees us, is a total surrender to the God who can do anything and everything. 

Are you tired of living your life in pursuit of happiness, victory or success? While those ambitions are God inspired, we will never achieve them in or own strength.  We will achieve them only when we put God first, surrendering to His agenda and not ours.  Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”. 

So you ask, “How do I do that?” I’m glad you asked!

Step 1- Understand the Heart of God

A lot of people stumble with the thought that a loving God would never throw anyone into hell because they do good things.  We convince ourselves that since we are good “most of the time” that we should get a ticket to Heaven, right?!!!   Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Yet we miss the most important part that it’s “most of the time”  We are good people as we love our kids and feed them, take care of our parents and so on.  Yet, have you ever lied? Then you are a sinner.  Have you ever had bitterness in your heart? You are a sinner.  Have you ever had lustful thoughts about another person?  You are a sinner.  The Bible states that we are sinners if we sin only ONE time.

For all have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God.  Romans 3:23 KJV

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.  Romans 3:10 KJV

God gave us the basic 10 Commandments in the book of Exodus.  Have you ever beared false witness (lied)?  Have you ever said the Lord’s name in vain or anger?  If you have violated any of the 10 Commandments, you are not perfect. You have disobeyed God!  And you are not alone, myself and everyone on the planet has broken the 10 Commandments!

Step 2 – What will happen after you die?

What will God do to me because I have sinned – I’ve lied or cheated, got angry with my boss, held bitterness in my heart?

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 6:23

The Bible says because of the sinful nature that we possess, the sentence is death, a spiritual death.  God created us as with a spirit.  We will all die physically, but our spirit lives on.  So is we are also spiritually dead, that means eternal existence without God.  That is described in the Bible as Hell!!!  A scary thought!!  I certainly don’t want to die and go to hell, NOR DO I WANT YOU TO.  Read Luke 16:22-31 if you don’t believe that there is a hell.

Step 3 – What is the solution for sinning?

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8 KJV.

The wonderful news is that God gave us a way out, through his gift, Jesus Christ, who took our sin upon himself and died on a cross.  Jesus came to earth to live a sinless life, and give His life freely as a sacrifice for all the sin of the world.  God sees that as the perfect and final sacrifice for sin.  No longer do the people have to sacrifice bulls and goats each time they sinned, (as they did in the Old Testament), instead, Jesus’s one sacrifice was sufficient to pay the price for ALL sin, forever.  But that's not all, then God raised Him from the dead, to prove that He had power over death! And now He sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us.

Have you accepted His precious gift of eternal life?  Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 NLT

Some people think this is very narrow-minded.  After all, don’t all religions lead to God?  Not according to God himself.  Jesus said of Himself, “He that has seen Me has seen the Father”, putting Himself on an equal with Father God.  John 14:9.  He also said, “I and My Father are One”.  John 10:30.  So if God Himself says that Jesus is the only way, sounds to me like He is the only way.

All other religions require that you work your way into Heaven.  And that’s appealing to many people because they want the credit for being “good”.  But how good do you have to be to be good enough?  God says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Step 4 – Surrender to Jesus

You have a free will to do as you please.  However, there is an eternal consequence to one decision you are avoiding to make, and it’s too late when you die.  You must make it today, there is no guarantee for tomorrow, my friend. 

All you have to do is accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that Jesus is your Savior.   “That if thou shalt confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved,”  Romans 10:9 KJV.

If you are ready to change your life, pray this prayer:  Father God, I am a sinner.  I believe that your Son, Jesus, died for me on the cross to take away my sins.  Please forgive me of my sins, come into my heart and make me anew. Thank you Father.

If you sincerely believed those words, you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior and He will send the Holy Spirit into your life to guide you into all truth and you are now a child of God!

This is the BEST decision you will ever make, what a life changing moment for you.  Will you email me at rick@pre-spect.com and let me know of your experience?   I would love to hear from you and I am praying for you.

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